We started the Sunday at a mall parking lot. We all got to do an exercise to count our steps between four flags (creating 3 legs) and enter our yardage to win valuable prizes. Sil said he’d give us the results the last day.
All of the working dogs got a chance to experience curb work and island hopping – matched to their skill and experience level.
Later we talked about choice points, of which there are three types:
2. contamination (and cross tracks)
Funneling is caused by buildings and other barriers that move the air and scent in ways that may not be consistent with where the track actually runs.
Sil has a peg board he’s put a whole lot of bolts/nuts into, creating pegs that stick up. Onto each peg he places a straw flag, 4 heights. The straws fit very loosely on the pegs, so the flags move readily. He sets up the “wind farm” with a fan blowing through it and then introduces different barriers like miniature buildings, fences, hedges, etc., to show how they affect air movement. I’d seen it before, but this time he had some new barriers to simulate different features, such as chain link fences. Its really cool to see the effects and get an idea of what puzzle the dog has to sort out.
After lunch we again laid tracks and watched dogs run them.
After all was done, I laid another article circle for Gimme, with 7 legs and 9 articles. One of the other students with a working dog joined us to train. Sil told her he only sets the articles 10-15 yards apart in his circles, with no corners, so I set ours smaller than I usually do. Normally I set 40 yard legs with an article in the middle of each leg; I was reminded right away why I use bigger distances. Because she is so fast, Gimme kept overrunning corners and articles.
I was happy to share the exercise with the other student and it actually was a huge benefit to us. I ran it first with Gimme and at the 4th corner, she was just so distracted and had the hardest time figuring out where the track went, so I finally had to help her out. Then she got going so fast she overran the next article. I assumed it was a symptom of her false pregnancy. After this discombobulation we got through to the end easily. When the other dog ran, I walked behind them picking up the flags, and saw she had trouble with the same corner and the same article. This was a sports field in a public park, so clearly there was some unusual contamination throwing the dogs a curve ball.