It was a long distance from the parking lot to where the room was, so we basically only got to watch one other dog. Joyce kept moving the hides so we were always getting blind hides for each search. Unfortunately that meant the dogs were dealing with a lot of lingering odor from a place where odor had been just a few minutes before and Joyce would tell us when the dog was sniffing, "that's lingering odor" so we'd know. That makes it a harder challenge for the dogs and its not one the dogs would face at a trial. However, the dogs have been dealing with lingering odor all along in classes, as hides are moved between rounds of searches.
What was frustrating to me was that for Gimme's second search, when she was sniffing around the base of an exercise bike - Joyce said it was lingering odor, so I urged Gimme away from it. She went back there a couple of times and I kept ignoring her behavior and not really supporting it. Finally she went back and was really insistent that it was on the bike and lo and behold, it was under the seat. Joyce said, "I didn't say it wasn't anywhere on the bike". Seriously! Odor falls to the ground, so Gimme was probably in odor when she was at the base of the bike and I was urging her away. Had I left her alone, she would no doubt have followed the odor up to where it was. To her credit, Gimme knew it was there somewhere and kept going back despite my idiot handling.
Then Gimme found a place on the bottom of some cages and insisted odor was there. Joyce said it was lingering, so I urged her away. The fourth time she went back and indicated, Joyce said, "I wonder if I picked up that odor" and when she checked, indeed it was there. Again, to her credit, Gimme knew she was right and persisted. Honestly, that just shouldn't happen. I was just thankful that it didn't happen to Susan and Tucker, since they are trialing this Saturday and don't need to confuse the dog right before a trial.
Gimme let me know that class wasn't enough to meet her needs (because she finds odor too fast... so she only gets about five minutes of searching). She let me know by killing one of her toys - which she had dissected last week - today she dismembered it. So I decided to do a little tricks training.
One of her tricks "pretty" is to sit up and beg and she's really good about doing it, but I've always been disappointed that I couldn't get better duration on that trick. Those paws just come up and go down really quickly and yet I see other dogs that are able and willing to hold the pose for awhile. I was thinking about this earlier today and it occurred to me that she gets paid when those feeties are back on the ground... so I am actually rewarding that part of the sequence as well.
So I decided tonight to practice it and concentrate on feeding in position. So even if the paws went down, the treat was delivered as if they were up. This is the same solution we had to do on her "take-a" bow... even if she popped up from the bow, the treat was delivered down on the ground and she had to resume the position. Quickly she learned to hold her bows. Likewise tonight, after the third time, she was holding the "pretty" a little longer.
Basically I am following the rule - "Whenever possible, feed in position." I tell my students this and that's how I set up their exercises and training. But - smack my forehead - I forget to apply it to my own training.Of course, then I had to sort out two other issues. Gimme has a tendency to want to stand up rather than sit. The other thing is that she wants to use her paws to hold onto my hand. For both of these the hand gets pulled away. I see both as symptoms of the same issue. As muscular and strong as Gimme is, I don't think she has a strong enough core to hold this position - its just not something she does. So as we practice this... keeping her up getting 5 or 6 treats in succession, we'll be building her core.
The other thing we worked on is "chin" a behavior which will be used to build a better hold on her dumbbell. Gimme was only really pressing into my hand if the treating hand was basically luring her to do so. Tonight I decided to try doing it more like a Doggie Zen exercise. First I did luring a couple of times to get her started. Then I started holding the treating hand out to the side and she had to leave it, moving her head to press into the other hand to get the treats. If she mugged my treat hand she got nothing so that triggered her Doggie Zen mindset and she quickly started giving me nice pressure into my hand.
She's a smart cookie... its just a matter of discovering what works best for any given exercise.