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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nosework Practice

I'd forgotten to put my odor kit back in the car, so I didn't get the hides set in the morning.  Instead I went over well before we planned to meet, set them, then took Gimme for a 3 mile walk on a nearby trail.  That gave us a cook time of roughly 2 hours.

As you watch this, note that Gimme only goes into one shed that didn't have odor in it, quickly ruled it out and left.  Odor was in the 3rd, 7th and 9th sheds (relative to the startline).   She does "catalog" the first two and then goes on to find the others before coming back to indicate them.  I let her go behind the 9th shed, because the wind was blowing away from us and I wanted her to have a chance to detect the inaccessible odor from a vent 5 feet off the ground.

The 9th shed has that one in a vent at 5 feet up and then q-tips in the door right above the hinge  which you see in passing at 1:37 and 2:04.  At 2:57 she pulls the odor out from under the support of the 7th shed.  At 3:29 she finds the last hide (3rd shed), which Tucker had pulled down and we neglected to reset, so it was in the middle of the floor.  Gimme found all four in 3:22.4... a very respectable time for 4 hides in one search area - which she'll never see in a trial.

Gimme, even with her cataloging, is fast and accurate.  Our training buddy took over 9 minutes to find all four - with a little help from us.  He's not nearly as driven as Gimme.  Sometimes he is faster than she is, because she blasts by hides.  However, when they are hard, she's always faster.

When Susan was picking up the tins after the indoor searches, she noted that the odor was very faint.  Certainly enough for the dogs to detect, but the lack of air movement other than shoppers going by, would make it a tough search.  I don't remember when I last refreshed the q-tips in those tins.  I'll be setting these same hides on Wednesday for class - using all fresh q-tips and with 7 hour cook time.  So it will be interesting to see how that affects Gimme and Tucker in their searches.  The q-tips for the shed searches were all fresh, having only been used once.

You can see that she localizes one of the hides at 27 seconds...  she doesn't get up to it, but knows generally where it is.  The odor is up above the second shelf, in line with the support between shelving sections, so it could easily be pooling where she puts her nose under the lower shelf, still she didn't indicate there.  She brackets the second hide at 52 seconds.  It takes her 4:38 seconds to find the first hide.  She does get a bit frustrated 6 minutes into the search and throws a false alert at me...  given how quickly she leaves it, I'm certain she knew odor really wasn't there.  At 6:42 seconds I try to "make a corner" with my body to help her find the second hide, but it didn't seem to help.  If you watch carefully at 6:55, her tail wag speeds up (fast enough to strobe on the video) as she finally gets a real bead on the second hide - interestingly well above it.  She found both hides in 7:09.  That's a very long search - Tucker was just a little longer and would have quit if Susan and I hadn't helped him.

Gimme got sooooo close at 1:22, but didn't persist.  While this search was very long, Gimme never needed help or encouragement.  I'm sure she smelled it just enough to make her keep looking.  She never lacks for persistence.  She makes me think if the little boy optimist in an old joke, where he's placed in a room full of horse manure and when they come back hours later he's still happily digging away, just convinced that with all that manure, there has to be a pony in there somewhere.

That's Gimme's approach.  All she needs is success in the end - it doesn't matter to her how hard the challenge was, so long as she wins - she thrives on challenge.  

Another note... I did notice my handling sucked in this video.  I got stuck standing still frequently - especially when I knew she was pretty close to the hide.  Of course it doesn't help that the aisle was narrow and cluttered.  Fortunately I handle well enough most of the time that Gimme doesn't pay any attention - never having learned that I might cue her where it is by getting stuck myself.

We did another search, but ran out of space on my camera's disk.

Gimme had a bodywork treatment after class on Saturday.  I had noticed Gimme was willing to sit, though responding a bit slow, but she didn't want to stay seated unless the rate of reinforcement was high.  She was doing pop-up toaster sits.  Sure enough Tonya found both hips were out of whack, but her right hip was really locked up.  It was so bad she had to do the energy work first, so it would relax enough for her to do bodywork - otherwise it would have been very a forceful and painful adjustment.  So Gimme got energy work twice - once to release the hip and again at the end, as usual.  I did some TTouch and energy work later where Tonya said would need it.  I could really feel the heat from the inflammation when I started, but it would be almost normal by the time I was done.  Gimme is doing much better now.  I'm going to get her treated again this Saturday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nosework (5/15)

Class last night was held at a classmate's friend's house, we searched her garage.  It was a 3-car garage and cars were taking up two bays, so we only searched one bay and the area between it and the door to the house, filled with a lot of interesting stuff.  The start line was the threshold of the garage door.

A couple of the hides were threshold hides and Gimme did a great job on them, pretty much going right toward them.

I've noticed lately on harder hides or when there is a lot of residual odor, Gimme tends to get frustrated and then throw an indication at me to see if I'll pay for it anyway.  So for the foreseeable future, I'm going to continue to search blind in class, but then have a hand signal or make eye-contact with Joyce when I'm ready to call "alert", "banana", "truck" or whatever verbal I'm using that day.  Then she can give me a thumbs up or thumbs down.  I don't really want Joyce to tell me where it is, preferring to let Gimme sort it out, but I do want Gimme to believe I always know where it is, so she'll push to source.

I wasn't seeing this before the inaccessible hides seminar, so I'm thinking its a by-product of that day - an unintended lesson that its not necessary to try to get to source.  Gimme is also tending to leave odor without indicating, which she used to do a lot and then had stopped.  Now its back.  <sigh>

On the last search there was a hide that normally Gimme would have accessed, instead she was bracketing all around and not pushing in for it.  So we left the search area and Joyce paired it.  Then Gimme really pushed in and got it.  Since we had the time, at the end I asked Joyce to leave it set and let us run it unpaired.  I wanted to see if Gimme really learned anything from the pairing.  In fact, she did search the whole area and when she caught that odor, this time she did push in.

So that tells me the pairing does in fact teach the dogs something when a hide is difficult.  I know we all believe it does, but I've never actually had the chance in class to search it again without pairing to see if it really taught them to solve that puzzle.  As a training practice, I think we probably should repeat the search without pairing, to cement the lesson. 

So all in all a good class.  Tomorrow Susan and I are going to search at Home Depot.  I'll go there before work and set some hides for us.  I've also offered to do that next Wednesday for class. 

This morning we had a walk around Capitol Lake with Frank and Tor.  There was some kind of walking event held by a local casino and many had brought their dogs.  I think we passed at least 25 dogs - overall Gimme did well.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friday NW Practice

I set these hides just before 10 a.m. and we started running them just after 5 p.m.  Tucker ran all of them first, followed by Gimme.

1st Search Gimme and Tucker ran this one almost exactly the same.  You'll note on this that she finds the hide at the 50 second mark, but doesn't stick it.  That has been a tendency of hers, especially with first searches.  At trials since I've started doing a couple practice runs off site, I haven't been seeing that, but it still happens in practice, especially with the first run.

2nd Search  The big truck you see in this search wasn't there when I set the hides, but we ran it anyway.  It hadn't been there that long (Susan arrived before me and saw it drive in), so I don't think it could have much in the way of pooling odor on it.  Tucker checked it out, but limited his time on it, while Gimme paid more attention to it. Gimme has searched a lot of 18 wheelers and I think she may have believed it was a vehicle search since I placed the start so close to it and didn't make any effort to keep her from searching it.  I wanted her to solve the puzzle of the well-cooked hide on her own.  In the future I'll plan to set these somewhere vehicles aren't likely to show up and become part of the search.

Still I love that she was so persistent in checking, checking and rechecking.  Hard to believe that Joyce thinks she doesn’t have a sense of commitment to vehicles.  You can see her indecision around 1:10 as she considers leaving the vehicle to check the rock wall… and dithering back and forth.  Then she suddenly runs to the wall and speeds up searching – I’m sure she got a whiff of odor.    Once she starts on wall, it only takes her a minute to find the hide. 

I was trying to replicate the search conditions we had at the trial, so that’s why I placed the start where I did.  In hindsight, probably not a good idea, since I’ve now introduced the idea that sometimes she should leave vehicles.  Clearly I need to be more flexible, eh.


3rd Search  This search also had an unintended truck in it.  At the beginning, right at 11 seconds Gimme actually veers away from odor – its so obvious, seems it just had to be on purpose.  The stack of pallets behind the truck wasn’t there either, but both dogs spent so much time on it, that I’m sure it was placed pretty early in the day or the truck body formed a channel and that caused the odor to end up there.  On the other hand, I didn’t see Gimme’s tail wag faster there – so perhaps not.  

You’ll see it start to wag really fast around 1:47, right before she finds odor at 2:08.  If you are really observant you will see the wag slow down, speed up, slow down, then get really fast right before she leaps up to where the odor is.  Her tail wags all the time (sometimes even in her sleep), it just wags faster when she’s in/near odor.

Around 2:50 in this video, you will see her show signs that she isn’t committed to searching.  We ran these searches all back to back to back… so she’d already been searching about 6 minutes with very little break between them.  I hadn’t planned it that way, but it was a long walk to where we parked, so we were being lazy and unfair to the dogs. 

Interesting though, when I encouraged her to continue (re-cuing "wherezit"), she went almost straight to the hide she had seemed to veer around as she started this search – which further supports my belief she knew it was there all along.  So I’m not sure why she didn’t just go straight to it.  I was using PB for a reward, so I would have thought she’d be extra motivated to get to it. 

One last interesting note.  The third hide is behind that bush and she starts to sniff around the base near it and then abruptly turns away and wags her tail faster for a few seconds as she turns to check the truck out again.  Once she has finished checking the truck, she goes right to the bush to alert.  Seems too obvious to be a coincidence.

Wish I could see her tail speed in real time.  If I did, I think I could cue her “show me” at the right time and then she’d go straight to it.  I also wish I was privy what goes on her mind.  Methinks there’s a little bit of twit in this kid…

Susan recommended that we do an interior hide with a long cook time.  I have a Home Depot (my home away from home) five minutes from my house and I pass it on the way to each of my accounts, so will set something up there.  I can set hides inside and outside using the sheds for inclement weather. 

BTW, I meant to mention that the other day when we met Mary and Grafton on the fort's training area for an off lead romp.  Gimme was getting in touch with her inner hunter by flushing pheasants.  She has a strong belief that critters that can fly should not be found lounging around on the ground.  One of the pheasants was a bit slow and left without a couple of her feathers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Soccer Mom (Agility, PD24 & NW 4/15)

I've often said that keeping up with all Gimme's activities makes me feel like a soccer mom.  I know her schedule takes up much more room on my calendar than my own stuff does.

Tuesday we had agility class.  The last four times we've gotten to class, Blynn always comments about how much Gimme has matured.  When she said the same thing this week, I told her she'd said that several times before... to which she replied that she always strives for consistency.

Gimme was very good this week.  She had a couple episodes of running amuck, they almost always happen when I'm trying to get her to set up for the start.  Blynn recommended something that worked quite well.  She recommended using our hand touches, which Gimme is very good at and likes to do.  In particular she recommended doing multiples back and forth between both hands.  Gimme thought that was really fun, it really got her attention and she didn't care at all that she wasn't getting a treat.

On all our runs, Gimme did such a good job that Blynn was able to focus on my handling.  Honestly my handling has gotten pretty bad while Gimme was still so green.  Now she is really ready to take more responsibility for what we are doing... so if I get my handling right she does it right about 95% of the time.  Trouble is that she really wants to work at a greater distance than I ever done before, so that is a whole new way of working for me and a huge learning curve.

There are some times I need her to come in close to do something, so we need to work on that more, until she is comfortable with it.  Still, she picks it up so quickly in class.  Tonight we had one of those sequences and the first time she didn't get in there for the jump.  The second time she did, but it was awkward.  The third time was flawless.

In any case, Gimme is much better at agility than I have any right to expect.  I almost never train her outside of class and yet she picks up things so quickly that Blynn thinks we practice all the time (I'm not telling her the truth).  Gimme is very athletic, so this all comes pretty naturally to her.  It helps a lot that APHS handling is so intuitive.  

Wednesday night was nosework and we met in a park.  We did two container searches on the grass.  Gimme was good at containers, got her odor and ignored the distractions.  I was pleased that she did not pee either.  Sadly, her box trashing was back with a vengeance.  I'm not worried, it'll come.  Then we did an exterior drill... She got that one VERY FAST... and didn't use her paws, but found the odor tin on the underside of the grill and bumped it repeatedly with her nose.  So much so that she actually moved it several inches.  I wonder if they have a fault for aggressive nose bumping.  <eg>

Today was Public Dog class again and Gimme did very well.  We played a recall game, Come and Get It.  The game is that you cue "come" and the dog bumps your fist, then you toss the reward from that hand in their same direction of travel, while cuing "get it" (a lot like ping pong treats).  Then you call them, have them touch the other fist and throw the treat in the other direction.  Its an easy way to get in a huge number of recalls in no time at all.  The idea is that the dog doesn't have to collect their stride as they are coming toward you, so you are encouraging and training a fast recall.  Unfortunately, even with the cue to "get it", you are also repeating a LOT of nose on the ground, which became evident later. 

We were using it to get the dogs used to working around other moving dogs.  Our first round of about 20 recalls was done with Frank and Tor as our distraction, about 8 feet away, also playing the same game.  Gimme was fine with that.  Then we did all the dogs at once, moving Gimme to about 15 feet away from Tor.  She did well, but I noticed after about 15 repeats she would pause to look at the other dogs before coming to me.  That told me she was getting concerned, so I switched things up and had her do several "front" recalls.  That seemed to help and then did the come and get it again.  After 15, again the pauses and again I did "front" and then we ended with 10 more come and get it.

After that we did some loose leash walking drills.  I spent most of the time encouraging her to get her nose up off the ground.  Not only had she just been cued to get the treats off the ground 60 times, but we were now working where the other people had been tossing treats.  So it took a bit to work through it.

Gimme and I are both tired tonight.  We spent 2 hours outside this morning before class and then another 3 hours this afternoon after class.  I was working on some gutter cleaning and repairs.  After at least 40 trips up and down the ladder, I was ready to lay down and die.  Then Mary called and we met her and Grafton for a walk around the lake.  Its been a full day.

Tomorrow we'll be meeting Susan and Tucker after work for a nosework practice.  I'm going to set the hides up before I go to work and then we'll run them after Susan gets off work.  So they'll be out around 7 hours, depending on what time we get over there to practice.  Then I'll be home to resume gutter fun.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Public Dog (23) & Pictures

Class today was particularly good, though I admit I had some serious doubts to begin with.  To start Gimme had no focus, but then when we started working she got into it and did well.  She hates to be bored and loves a good challenge.  The challenge that caught her attention was LLW from the asphalt of an open tennis court onto the grass, without going into sniffing mode.  We've worked on cement or asphalt pads a lot lately, so some of the dogs have decided that they work there and are off duty on grass. 

The thing that worked was a change that Ursula suggested.  When I walk forward and Gimme forges or sniffs, I stop and start backing up.  Ursula suggested I turn and walk the other way to make it clearer.  I don't know that it made it clearer, so much as it was just different.  We've done the backing up technique a lot and its always worked, but sometimes Gimme just isn't inclined to focus.  This basically puts the responsibility on her to pay attention, because I walk further and faster.

Its like a cross between my oppositional walking (going the opposite direction that the dog is pulling, but while still facing in the original direction) and the Koehler method.  The way it differs from Koehler is that he recommending turning and running, so the dog got a substantial correction.  This is just calmly walking.  Anyway it worked.  I won't abandon what I've been doing, but will certainly keep this in mind for when it doesn't work.  Sometimes it helps to change things up.

Then we moved into the fenced in tennis court.  I went the long way around to close the gate at the other end and glad I did, since Gimme pooped on the way.  Which probably explains her earlier distraction.  Once inside we practiced our cued turns to warm up. 

Then we did a solo exercise.  We all stood at one end and then one at a time, walked our dog on a loose leash (butler style) to a spot on the side of the court (about 25 feet from where the teams were waiting), cued the dog to sit, c/t, took off our treats and left them there, then walked a large p-shaped pattern, returned to where the treat bag was left, cued a down, c/t, then walked back to our place in the line-up.  The second time we did it without a leash.  The layout looked like this...
The first time Gimme did it flawlessly.  The second time, she started to stray toward the poodle as we were returning to our place in line, but returned to me when I called her by name and finished without a hitch.  So all in all it was a good class and confidence building.  Gimme is improving a lot in these classes. 

BTW Ursula told me my task in subsequent classes is to maintain the same pace and not adjust to Gimme.  If Gimme gets going too fast, I'm supposed to slow down or stop.  I wasn't aware that I'd been doing that, but don't doubt it.  That's a real common tendency.

Later we got a call from Mary and met her and Grafton out on the fort's training area for a nice long walk.  Gimme and Grafton thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. 

Here is a couple of cute pictures from our weekend at the hotel.

This would be Gimme hinting that its time for another walk (mere minutes after returning from the last one).
This is Gimme disgusted beyond words that I can't take a simple hint.  Seriously!

This is her lounging across the foot of the bed after we did a short training session.  Finally some attention paid to her.

Yah, right...

Spectacular -- Something...

We came away from the weekend with both a spectacular failure and a spectacular success.  Our drive down along the Willamette River was beautiful and I successfully managed to miss the deer that tried so hard to become roadkill.  Gimme was not impressed with my efforts and thinks "swerving" for any reason should be deemed a no-no.  Our hotel room (Motel 6) in Bend was nice and the quietest so far.  I'm a devoted Motel 6 fan.

We had a really nice training session in the evening and again the morning.  Gimme and I continue to work on moderating her paw indicator.  Poor girlie is still scratching because of the dang fleas from 2 weeks ago.  I havent' seen a flea on her in over a week, but she still seems very itchy.  I'm going to get some conditioning shampoo and will try Ttouch.  During the evening we found the perfect place to get in a warm-up practice run before going to the trial site - which we did first thing in the morning.

While we did not title and had a lot of problems (finding only 4 out of 9 hides)... I'm trying to not feel too bad.  Not one person titled yesterday - out of 34 competitors.  There were many lessons learned and so I have plans to improve our performance.  We were not assessed any faults for excessive pawing, another success.

Vehicle Element - I was most worried about this element, because its the one that tripped us up for the last two trials.  There was a humvee and two trailer rigs (from 18 wheelers) in very strong wind.  I needn't have worried.  Gimme was focused, fast and accurate.  She nailed the first hide and then boom, hit the second.  It felt like a minute to me, so I knew it had to be around 30 seconds.  I've learned my sense of time is skewed and I generally find it took half as long as I thought it did.  

So given how fast I thought she was, I was pretty surprised when they called the first, second and third place ribbon times.  I was just certain she was faster than the third place dog who had 49 seconds.  When I got her time sheet it said 32 seconds, so I approached the trial secretary and asked about it.  Turns out there was an issue that the computer did not assess our points.  I'm guessing it was because of some minor data entry problem - like a <space> that wasn't supposed to be there.  I've done a lot of data entry and that is the most common and hardest to find of all data entry problems.  

So, they are going to have to retrieve all the ribbons, because by the time this was resolved most people had already left.  We'll get our ribbon in the mail and our placement will show up correctly when the trial results are posted.  I feel badly that the competitors who already received the ribbons will be getting notices today that their awards were invalid.  But, I don't feel badly enough to have not said something, eh...

I have to note that Gimme has had a placement in all but her first NW1 trial.  When she is good, she is very good.  We are clearly on the right path and things will come together soon.  Yesterday's first place was a sweet victory, especially given how frustrating the other elements were.

Exterior Element - This was a large exterior area, mostly on asphalt with a small grass strip on one end and on part of the start side.  The area had a number of things brought in - two banquet tables (one set up and the other flat on the ground), 2 grills, a cart of junk and a couple other things I've forgotten.  The wind was very strong.  Gimme wanted to go straight ahead off the startline, so I let her.  She worked the area along the upwind side and settled on the upright banquet table and alerted strongly there, twice.  It was a false alert.  The judge showed us the nearest hide, about ten feet away deep in a bucket of metal fittings inside the cart.  He said she got fooled by pooling odor - which made no sense to me because the wind was blowing strongly from the false alert toward the odor.

I later talked to the Certifying Official and he remembered Gimme and had many complimentary things to say about her, my handling and our teamwork.  Love hearing that.  There were teams still running that element, so he couldn't say too much, but did confirm that it was a pooling odor issue - which still didn't make sense to me.  After thinking about it I had an idea that I went back and asked him about and that clarifies everything and leads me to a training plan between now and the next trial.

Pooling odor doesn't make sense for the conditions observed at the time, but those conditions may not have been present for the whole time odor was out.  By the time we searched odor had been out at least 2 hours and possibly longer, so there could have been times of less wind with more swirling possibilities, thus odor could have been trapped on the fittings under the table.  I have always thought of trials as having the potential to be easier for the dogs because the odor is out so much longer than what we see in class and practices, so there is a larger odor plume for the dogs to work with.  That is true, but I realize now it is equally true that it increases the challenges from pooling odor.  

Gimme has dealt with some pooling odor, but probably not to the extent she found there.  And keep in mind what was said during the Inaccessible Odor seminar - that pooling odor can theoretically be as strong as source odor AND that a dog that is never given the opportunity to access source odor may believe pooling odor is the real deal because its the strongest of what the dog had access to.  So since that was what she found and she hadn't really caught any other odor - Gimme validly believed she was at source.  A handling strategy I will use in the future for outdoor searches is to lead her to the downwind end of the search area right from the startline.  I normally let Gimme take the lead, but this is one good reason to manage at least the beginning of outdoor searches, especially with a strong wind.

The C.O. said he has sole access to a training area and he often sets up hides 24 hours in advance of running them.  He also varies how much odor he puts out, from very little to a LOT.  So Susan and I have come up with a plan for doing just that... probably not 24 hours, but I could set a couple hides first thing in the morning and then we could run them at the end of the work day.  We'll wait until the weather cools, so she can have her dog in the car all day and come right from work.  Joyce overheard us talking and ventured that she would welcome me planning something like that for our classes - so that may also happen.

Interior Element - Our first search in the afternoon was two interior rooms (off leash).  The first was a large classroom like room - just desks and chairs on slick linoleum.  Gimme discovered the slippery properties of that floor early in the day as we were headed through the building to vehicles and again as we were moving from station to station for the afternoon.  She believes that she MUST PULL any time she is wearing her nosework harness, so I had to encourage her to not pull and walk slower.  I was concerned that she might be bothered by the flooring, but she figured it out and did fine.  She wasn't inclined to move to the far wall, so I moved toward it to encourage her and she paralleled me, ending up in that area.  That was indeed the right answer, since I didn't know they had a window open (hidden by the blinds) and odor was moving from a desk along the wall straight out the window.  So until Gimme got between that desk and window, she really had no way to catch the scent.  

The second search area was a workout room.  It was a small room with a lot of workout stuff, no air movement, much residual human smells and very stinky rubber flooring and rubber workout mats.  The room was so small and crowded that only the judge and videographer came in the room.  Gimme did sniff interestedly at a large dumbbell on the floor, but left it quickly - turns out that was one of the odor sources, that we never got back to.  She then got very interested in the top area of a treadmill and alerted strongly there.  That was a false alert and the odor was actually in a stack of mats in a corner four feet away.  

Most dogs had a lot of trouble with this room first and when the element results are posted on line, I'll check to see if anyone passed it.  I didn't talk to anyone that did and keep in mind that no one titled.  I am concerned that Gimme may be experiencing some confusion about going to source following the Inaccessible Hides seminar and when frustrated by challenging conditions may think its okay to settle for odor nearby.  

Keep in mind that her first class after the seminar was a bust because of the drug side affects and so she only had one other class.  Susan and I got together for one practice the Monday after the seminar weekend and neither dog searched with interest - I think Gimme was just too tired.  We never got another practice... so she really only had that one class to remind her of the importance of getting to source after a full day of me accepting her getting kinda close.  I should have been more dedicated to getting her out for practices on my own.  And in the future will think carefully about attending a seminar so close to a trial.  We'll just have to do a LOT of searches in the near future when she has to get right to source to get paid.

Container Element - Gimme started out very well and passed the first two distractions without a problem, finding the first odor container without any issue.  However, the third distraction bag totally sucked her in - turns out it had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in it.  She gave me all the parts of her container indicator - completely lying to me.  We have trained peanut butter as a distraction before, but not recently.  The recommendation is to not just train the things you think will be a big distraction, but a variety of things that you don't know if your dog will be attracted to.  Apparently most failures to distraction in this trial's container element were to the sweet potato french fries.

One thing I'm thinking about is that Gimme was frustrated in the afternoon and while we were waiting had been mugging me for peanut butter.  My reaction was to get someone to take the peanut butter go toob to the car.  In hindsight, I think I should have required her to calm herself and then have given her a big glob of PB to enjoy.  I do know that the big glob is relaxing to her.  Maybe she wouldn't have been sucked in then, but I have no way of knowing.  We'll train more PB distractions and I'm thinking about rewarding with PB for containers as well.  I'll have to play with that.

The next trial is Elmira, but that's a weekend in November when I'll be in California at the Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor's course.  So after that our next opportunity is Clackamas in February.  That gives us a lot of time to work on these newly discovered holes in our training.  

I was really frustrated by our dismal efforts, but the 1st in Vehicles cheers me up and reminds me that we have some skills very solid.  This will come...  If it was easy to title, then the title wouldn't be worth much, eh...

Now Gimme and me are heading out the door to class and then will meet Grafton for a romp on the Fort Lewis training area.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nosework (3/15)

Class tonight was good.  Gimme peed on the exterior for the first time in a long time.  I'm not too worried - since the dog that went before her peed, so that's a factor.  Of course, that could happen in a trial.  Its very hot today, so the dogs are drinking more water... thus increasing the likelihood of peeing.  Other than that, Gimme did a nice job.

Her paw indicator continues to be more moderate and improving all the time.  So much so that Joyce even noticed and commented on it.  She asked what I was doing to change it.  When I started to explain that I held off doing anything to change it until I could think of a reward-based answer, she agreed saying coming up with non-punitive ways to train things is very important.  I guess she's forgotten all the times she recommended correction.  In any case, she has now noticed and complimented my results.  When the process is all done, I think I'll write it up and share it online. 

I spent the weekend at my parents and did some training.  I already taught Gimme to "touch" my hand with her nose pretty much anywhere I offer it to her and I wanted to introduce an "up touch" for heeling.  I tried working with this at my parents' and it started out well, but then fell apart and Gimme got really frustrated and spent a good deal of time yelling at me (i.e. barking loudly).  I had to end the training and making her lay down to calm herself.  I realized later that she had every right to be frustrated.

When she was beside me in heel position and I put my hand out with my palm parallel to the floor, she did fine.  But then I wasn't focused on what I was doing (showing off for my parents doncha know) and I let her move in front of me, then the hand was no longer parallel to the floor or even fingertips toward the floor - which is what she is used to seeing for "touch".  Instead my hand was at an angle with fingertips upward - essentially the same cue I give her for "high", "five" and both for "ten" - which is what she was offering me.  So when I wasn't rewarding what she was giving me for the cue - she had good reason to tell me off.  She's never been bashful about speaking her mind, eh.

Later in the motor home I did the up "touch" right and she was fine at it.  We also practiced "high", "five" and "ten" correctly.  Gimme was no doubt pleased that I'd come to my senses.  We also got in a lot of "front" practice.  On Sunday we did some shaping of her backing her feet up onto a stool while Mom was at church and I was staying with Dad (he was napping).

I love that Gimme provides commentary on our training (especially when I'm not doing it right).  I think people who are still using compulsion would hate it though... they want compliance no matter what.  I'd hate to think I'd confused the training by forcing compliance when *I* was the one in error.  Gimme keeps me honest and makes me a better trainer.

BTW we are still fighting the battle of the fleas, but improving.  I'm down to finding about one a day.  I think they've gotten into the upholstery and area rugs.  So I treated them all with Diatomaceous earth.  Tomorrow I will clean out the car in preparation for the weekend and will vacuum it and dust all the carpeting, around the crate and her crate bedding with Diatomaceous earth.  For awhile she was getting hot spots and hives in reaction to the fleas.  Given that I picked 37 off her in 2 days... I think her body reacted allergically.  I gave her a maximum dose of Benedryl for three days, reduced dose for one day and one last dose this morning.

Benedryl does affect their scenting ability, so I was glad to see that she could search good today.  We are trialing on Sunday, so want her off it well in advance of that.  Gimme is still itchy, but at least there are no more hives or hot spots.  I'm putting hydrocortisone on any of the extra pink or itchy places once or twice a day.  Now that its evening, we'll sit down to watch a movie and she'll be belly up in my lap so I can gently rub the itchy places.  She always likes to do that in the evening, but particularly now.

Well, tummy duty calls me...

Public Dog (21 & 22)

A quick update on classes this week and then, yet another confession.  Gimme continues to progress.  Monday was class at a park in a tennis court.  We did some LLW and then practiced a cued turn.  I don't have a reason to use a cued turn and really don't think dogs need them.  So I just used the time to strengthen "ready", which is Gimme's cue that its time to focus on me (and look at me).  By using that cue, she'd look up and then couldn't miss which direction I was turning. 

Yesterday it turned out that Susan (with Harley) and me (with Gimme) were the only ones in class.  We ended up teaching our dogs something new.  It wasn't really new for us, since Gimme already knows "hip" and "thigh" (left/right heel w/ automatic sit).  Still I went along with the exercise and worked on teaching it the way Ursula recommended, based on luring.  I don't find luring very effective for Gimme the vast majority of the time.  She gets stuck on the lure and has difficulty letting go of it.  This exercise was no exception.

Now the confession...

I have discovered that Gimme's understanding of "heel" has really deteriorated - temporarily nonexistent.  At first I thought it was the distraction of the class location, but quickly discovered it pretty much applies to any situation.   I realized that when we first attended Public Dog, Gimme was really distracted and couldn't do LLW.  Since her heel behavior was stronger, I used my non-verbal cue (hand at my waist) to get her to walk with me on a loose leash.  That would have been okay, except I didn't think it through.  Even though it was okay to c/t for any loose leash walking in that distracting environment, I should have shaped back to the precise standard for heel and I didn't.  So Gimme's understanding is that previous cues to "heel" (non-verbal and sometimes verbal when I'd get caught up because Ursula calls her precision walking "heel") now mean LLW.  I can't blame that on Gimme or the Public Dog classes -- its all mine to own up to.

I've also lost her attentiveness.  In Public Dog classes I've been focusing on teaching her to chill out and just be calm - more like Relaxation Protocol.  That's not her normal state -- she'd rather be working the whole time.  In rewarding calm-looking behaviors and relaxed looking around, I'm also not-rewarding attention - thus I'm getting more looking around and less attention.  She's not misbehaving, just inattentive to me, disconnected and calmly waiting.  So, in thinking it over, it makes sense that she believes that is what I want when we are out and about, because that is what I've been rewarding all summer.  Duh...

I need both from Gimme.  Heeling and loose leash walking.  Working attention and ability to be calm in distracting/challenging environments.  I have no doubt Gimme can learn each of these different criteria - I just have to be clear and consistent.  She can only learn what I am clearly teaching and consistently rewarding.

I tried in classes to work on this, to no avail.  I tried a quick session before class, with no luck.  I tried in a parking lot (not connected to class), no success.  Since those frustrating experiences, I realized I would have to start over naming the position... beginning in the seclusion of my living room.  And likewise, I'll have to go back and regain the beautiful attention I had.  I did a session this morning with about 20 treats.  And halfway through I had to remind her to "wait" before I'd move from one position to another (heel, front, side) or she'd try to maintain it.  So it looks like we'll get heel back reasonably fast.  

You have to be smarter than a dog to train one...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Inaccessible Hides Seminar (4)

The fourth and final installation...

4th Exercise – odor placed in the "crotch" of a tree, about 5½ feet off the ground
8. This proved interesting because when the dogs weren't finding odor, Barbara reminded us to go to where we handlers hadn't been.  In almost every case that was the same place of the search area.  As we moved there, the dogs followed and almost all got the drift of odor right away.  Usually the instruction is to note where the dog hadn't been and in some of these cases the dog had been there – so something about the handler's movement through the area changed the search for the dogs
9. Note in Gimme's search that she follows the drift of odor out to its furthest edge and then turns and goes directly to odor.  Keep in mind that odor falls like a waterfall, but it also emits and stays on a plane at its height, gradually drifting down to earth.  This is often apparent in converging odor situations, but was also discussed at length in Jeff Schettlers book on trailing.

 ~ Video Notes ~
Gimme seems to find odor at the 8 second mark, but then leaves it to search the rest of the area – a common behavior for her.  I stalled in place at the 28 second mark, not moving for 8 seconds – an eternity of bad handling.  She seemed to find it again at 51 seconds, but didn’t stick it.  Right at 1:19 she finds the limit of the scent cone and then if you watch you will see her nose go straight to odor – almost as if she were following a string from that point to the highest place she could reach on the tree.  We took longer than necessary with this search because the slight breeze kept changing directions and I wasn't aware of it. 
** I saw one of the other handlers had tied a piece of orange construction tape to her wrist with about 10 inches hanging down.  The tape flutters with the breeze and is readily visible to the handler while the search is ongoing.  And, importantly, the tape on your wrist while handling will show you what the breeze is doing closer to the dog’s nose level (unlike a wet finger held up to test the breeze).

5th Exercise – hide is placed 12 inches under from edge of running board
10. many of the dogs tended to follow the odor to the vehicle next to the one the odor was on and had it not been there, might have checked some other barrier for odor to collect on
11. no dogs go to the far side of the vehicles on either side of the vehicle the odor was on, though many went around the vehicle with the hide
12. in frustration Gimme tended to go vertical on the vehicle while searching for source – see discussion below

~ Video Notes ~
Gimme went vertical on this search four times. She has a very light touch, but still… once, even twice, is acceptable… more than that would probably result in a fault.     Generally feet on tires, bumpers and running boards are not an issue. 

6th Exercise – hide under running board remains and an additional hide is readily accessible on the trailer hitch
13. keep dogs from going too far under the vehicle by restricting how much line you give them, taking care to not let an unintended correction occur

~ Video Notes ~
While we were setting up to search another dog was too close and started barking.  Barbara reminded them to move further away.  While Gimme definitely noticed, she immediately returned her focus to me and was ready to work.  She has come a long way this year.  Interestingly with the added hide on the bumper, almost all the dogs started by coming down the other side of the red vehicle, unlike their first search where they came down between the red and white vehicles.  Gimme got the inaccessible hide much faster the second time.

Going Vertical on Vehicles
  • Gimme put her paws up on the vehicle 4 times in the first search and once in the second search.  She doesn't normally do that and I think it was likely frustration from the difficulty of the search.  I think we need to do more inaccessible hides on vehicles so she has more experience and doesn’t get so frustrated.  Unfortunately we really can’t between now and the trial in ten days, so hopefully the two searches we did here will carry us through.
  • Going vertical once is okay and won't be faulted (if its a light touch with no pawing), most judges won't fault for a second time... but beyond that is likely to incur a fault
  • Dogs can place their paws on a car/truck body to steady themselves and check for odor.  We have to realize that odor can get blown over a vehicle as well as under and around.  Paws on hitches, bumpers and tires is not an issue.
  • Hides on vehicles will never be placed higher than wheel well or bumper, so dogs don't "need" to look higher than that for source.  Barbara suggested I study Gimme's video to see how her head moves right before she goes vertical.
  • Then I can gently discourage it with line tension.  Giving less line when she's about to go up will restrict her ability to go vertical, while taking care not to give a line "check" since it feels like punishment/correction to the dog.
I got compliments from Barbara on every run on my line handling and how well I work Gimme.  That sure felt good.  She even mentioned once during the seminar that some dogs are so fast that you need a much longer line, "almost like a tracking line".  Thus validating another difference of opinion between Joyce and me.

All in all, I was very happy with how Gimme did.  I hadn’t thought Joyce was doing a very good job of teaching inaccessible hides to our dogs that are training for NW2 trials.  Then again, Gimme was the only dog for both days that did so well on all her searches that she never got any extra runs to work through a problem.  So I guess we’ve done much better than I thought.  Either that, or she’s just naturally brilliant!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Inaccessible Hides Seminar (3)

Resuming with exercises from the 1st Day...

4th Exercise – Under vehicle 12" in from edge of running board
8. You need to limit how far you allow the dog to go under the edge of a vehicle and this is partly dependent on the size of the dog.
9. Safety of the dog is the primary factor... generally not past shoulders/mid-back
10. Use line to restrict moving further under the vehicle, but not in a way where you are pulling them back or giving an unintended correction.
11. Proximity of sign that creates handler impediment would make this a NW3 level hide, without changing difficulty for the dog.

5th Exercise – Under vehicle 12" in from edge of running board, with accessible hide on hubcap of nearby vehicle
12. Again most dogs chose to do the easier hide first.

6th Exercise – Odor on the head of a long-handled paint roller, leaned high on a wall and behind a barrier
13. I cautioned against the unsteadiness of the barrier (a chain link gate just leaned in place to fill a gap and offered a bungee to make it more secure.  Barbara said she didn't think these particular dogs would put their feet on it.  That proved wrong!  Two dogs knocked it down and it was necessary to recover their confidence.
14. One dog knocked it so hard the gate nearly landed where Joyce was squatted for filming and the odor tin went flying and was lost in the deep weeds.
15. If something happens to concern the dog, the handler should not be the one to reward or work through it.  A trusted instructor or assistant can reward through it while the handler handles.  Thus, the dog doesn't learn to expect the handler to bail them out and there's no risk the dog will associate the scary thing with their handler.

7th Exercise – Back to the vehicle, where hide was moved to the far side from the sign and the accessible hide was removed.  This was intended to test the following question and discussion.
16. if the dog isn't committing (making a decision), how do you know if the odor is on the near side and inaccessible or on the far side?
  • if the dog is bracketing (left in diagram below), the odor is probably on the near side
  • if the dog is t-boning (right in diagram below - i.e. wanting to go under the vehicle at a 90ยบ angle) and especially if breeze is coming from the other side, odor is probably on the other side.
  • some dogs will act just the opposite, but a dog is generally consistent within its own searches, so know your own dog.

    BTW – After the day's end, Joyce's dog couldn't find the odor tin in the weeds from the 6th exercise, so I volunteered Gimme.  She was generally dithering and not committing to search and Joyce gave up, thinking it was too hot for her and assuming she'd wait and find the tin when she removed the weeds.  I suspected Gimme was annoyed with me because she'd spent the whole day in the car and was having an attitude about being pulled out of the car and commanded to perform like a trained seal.  So I teased her with the treats I had for her and restarted her.  Then she went to work and had it located within 15 seconds where it had fallen down by the railroad tie and had mulch kicked over it.  Whether or not it was attitude or needing to know I was going to make it worth her while in the heat is anyone's guess...  in any case, as always...
    Know Your Dog

    ~ Day Two ~   at Cindy's condo common area Meeting Room

    1st Exercise – hide was placed just forward of center under a swivel based recliner
    1. The dogs approached from the rear of the chair and most found odor from the front, Gimme included.
    2. They seemed to check out more of the room than the previous day's dogs had and we believed this was because the door was left open and that caused more air movement than was present in the other building.

    2nd Exercise – hide stayed just forward of center under swivel based recliner, upturned chairs, trash can, plastic tree, and noteboard were placed around the chair as barriers
    3. Dogs followed a similar pattern of looking to handlers, wanting help
    4. Some dogs actually seemed intrigued by the possibility of training their handlers, though all opted to work instead
    5. These dogs spent a bit of time checking each barrier after it was moved for odor.  we think this may be because of the carpet and the additional air current moving odor onto the barriers more than happened the day before

    ~ Video Notes ~
    You'll note that Gimme doesn't really ask to have the barrier moved the first time.  I have always encouraged her to push in and help herself - something she is happy to do.  The second time she also doesn't look right at me, but just kind of pauses and watches me from the corner of her eye.  I think if I'd just waited she would have pushed in beside the trash can and indicated on her own.  You'll note she wasn't the least bit bothered by the noteboard falling over against the chair when she did get in to indicate odor.

    3rd Exercise – odor was placed high on a coat alcove (hangers removed for safety) and one accessible hide was placed at the rear of the base for the swivel recliner.
    6. Students expressed concern that there was nothing for the dogs to put their paws on to stretch up to odor.  Gimme proved that was not the case as she stretched her legs out to the full extent to the side to brace against the alcove wall, while still stretching up to odor
    7. The two smaller dogs got fixated on the edges/cracks/hinges of the adjacent door to the utility closet.  One larger dog showed interest in the door handle.  Odor falling from the elevated source would land on these and be somewhat more concentrated than on the floor.  It was important to be extra careful about timing with these dogs to make sure they were making the right connection to odor source and not pooling odor.

    ~ Video Notes ~
    We closed the door this time and so the dogs were much more likely to get into the area to the right of the door.  There was a vent overhead pushing air in where Joyce stood (the door closer) and another on the floor sucking air in behind where Barbara stood.  Gimme first found the accessible hide behind the chair and then you'll see her go right over to where the floor vent was.  She found both hides and got right up to indicate the overhead hide within 29 seconds.  Is she amazing or what?!  Barbara had to remind me about placing her treat at source and bringing it toward her - which we did several times, encouraging her to note source and go vertical toward it.  Then Barbara had me let her get the accessible hide again - something Gimme would not have done on her own.

    More to follow... with 3 more videos...

    Gimme's Crummy Nose (NW 1/15 & 2/15)

    No her nose isn't crummy, but it sure was last night.

    During the seminar weekend, Gimme picked up a truly impressive flea infestation.  By Tuesday evening, she was constantly scratching and biting and really miserable.  Once I realized what was going on, I gave her a dose of Advantage and started picking the nasty buggers off her.  Thus far I have picked off 34 and flushed 3 more down the drain, for a total of 37!

    Yesterday I wanted to give her some Benedryl to help her with the itching.  An hour later I saw no change in her itchiness, so I went to check the package before going on line to see if I needed to increase the dose.  That was when I discovered I hadn't given her Benedryl at all, but rather a dose of sudephedrine, a nasal decongestant.  I quickly checked the safety of it and there is no problem.  I don't know how that stuff even got near where I keep the dog medicines, but since I live alone I have no one to blame but myself.

    Two hours after giving it to her we joined our nosework class.  The exercises were all things that Miss Gimme should be able to do with ease.  Instead she was only slightly interested in searching and constantly looking to me for help.  That is not the Gimme I work with and everyone commented how changed she was.  I basically had to wander by the hides within a couple of feet before she would go for them - though she was enthusiastic at that point.

    It was while doing the third search that I realized what the problem was.  Sudephedrine is a nasal decongestant and as such it dries up mucous membranes.  I know I've mentioned several times in this blog how important it is that the dog's nose and nasal passages be moist and well hydrated.  By medicinally drying out her nasal passages, we had reduced her normally awesome scenting ability to the bare minimum.

    Poor baby was so frustrated, as was I.  She couldn't understand why I wanted her to search where there was no odor.  I learned that I wouldn't want to do nosework with a dog without talent or interest.  We ended by giving her the easiest possible search (three boxes, 2 clear, one wide open with an abundance of odor) and I gave her the jackpot of all jackpots for finding it.  I definitely wanted to end on a positive note.

    We came home and I gave her a bath to wash off any remaining buggers.  Gimme thinks I intended to drown her.  She denies felling better afterward, but I noticed less scratching.  There is even less this morning.  I probably could have given her Benedryl late last night, but just to be safe, I waited.  So I'm going to give her some now and then we are going out to meet Frank and Tor for a walk.

    Also you may notice I never reported on the NW class from last week.  That is because it was so frustrating that I just couldn't get interested in writing about it.  Joyce was being absurd about calling "fault" every time Gimme's paws touched anything.  Even though Gimme found every hide quickly and with great enthusiasm, I left class frustrated and demoralized.  I felt like all our effort to moderate her pawing and the improvement I'm already seeing was all for naught.  Based on Joyce's interpretation of what constitutes a fault, I was considering teaching Gimme to back up to hides and point them out with her tail!

    Fortunately during the seminar weekend, I was able to ask all the questions that have been bugging me about Joyce's instructions.  I was able to fit each question neatly into what was going on.  Hopefully Joyce was taking notes.  Whether she was or not, I at least have the confidence in knowing my positions on our different approaches agree with a nosework founder's point of view.

    And now, the trail beckons...

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Inaccessible Hides Seminar (2)

    Continuing from my notes:

    The two 80/20 Rules – these rules may be fudged for a specific session, but over a group of sessions (classes, practice and trials) it should hold true.
    • Pair hides 80% of the time throughout the dog's training; unpaired 20% of the time.  You may want to pair 90% of the time just before a trial.  After NW1 title is gained, never pair container training again, because you are working on intentional distractions and pairing in this situation would send a conflicting message.
    • Accessible hides 80% of the time; Inaccessible hides 20% of the time.  We did few accessible hides during the seminar, so we were advised to do all accessible hides for the next couple of weeks.  It is functionally impossible to pair an inaccessible hide.
    When inaccessible hides are really new to the dog, always end the session with an accessible hide.   In a couple places in the seminar, we had both an accessible and an inaccessible hide and were free to let the dog find, or re-find, the accessible hide at the end of the session

    Between NW1 and NW2 you will need more persistence/stamina from the dog because the differences between the levels will need a stronger commitment from the dog.  Those differences are:
    • purposeful distractions in containers - remember there may be other incidental distractions existing in the environment in NW1, which are not removed
    • multiple hides to an element
    • inaccessible hides
    Source versus Pooling
    • pooling odor can theoretically be as strong as source odor
    • quality of odor will be different between source and pooling odor
    • source odor is always emitting new odor molecules (per Fred Helfer), so pooling odor will smell different to an experienced dog
    • however, a dog that is never given the opportunity to access source odor may believe pooling odor is the real deal because its the strongest of what the dog had access to
    • the longer a dog searches a specific area without indicating, the less likely it is that source is there
    One way to teach elevated hides is to attach odor to a line through a pulley, so odor is suspended in mid-air.  Enables you to readily raise and lower odor to provide appropriate challenge level to individual dogs.

    The Exercises with Training Notes:

    "Accept Less to Gain More"
    ~ Amy Herot

    ~ Day One ~  at Joyce's Unsinkable Dogs training facility

    1st Exercise – Odor was placed in the center of a wire crate, crate was in a corner and only approachable from two sides.
    1. Reward the moment the dog acknowledges odor – any decision
    2. Reward any sniff and look at handler
    3. Novice dogs may note odor, but leave looking for something easier.  Rewarding early tells them "yes, this is it, even if its hard"
    4. Dog looks at handler because they "need" handler assistance.  Rewarding for the look, even if it isn't your usual indicator, gives you additional information (and communication) so you know when the hide is there, but inaccessible

    2nd Exercise – Odor stays in center of wire crate in a corner.  Various movable barriers are added around inaccessible hide.  A second accessible hide is added
    5. Moving barriers when dog indicates they need help encourages dog to get as close as they can
    6. Adding second accessible hide helps to maintain 80/20 rule and allows you to end with an accessible hide for newer dogs.  Most dogs chose to get the easy hide first, even when they had already noted the inaccessible hide.  Some tried to go back to the easy accessible hide.
    7. In a trial you have to ask a judge for permission to move things.  The judge may say "no" because odor clings to a barrier and gets moved around with the barrier, contaminating the area for subsequent dogs.  Likewise dragging your line through the area can catch odor and drag it around contaminating the area for subsequent dogs, which is why its faulted in trials.

    3rd Exercise
    – Under and to the back of a low stool, with immovable barriers so that dog can only approach from one side.
    By this exercise, even the dogs new to inaccessible hides were more persistent in trying to get to odor.  Also, bracketing was very clear to see.

    More to follow... with videos soon...

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Inaccessible Hides Seminar (1)

    Over the weekend we went to Vancouver to attend the "Inaccessible Hides: The Search for Elusive Source" seminar, presented by Barbara Schwerdt.  It was great.  I'd been to her converging odor seminar and it was okay, but  not great.  We discussed the difference - in a large part its because its easy and obvious how to set up training for inaccessible hides.  Whereas for converging odor, sometimes what you think will be converging isn't and vice versa - so you can't count on seeing the clear progression in the dogs.

    So, what are Inaccessible Hides?  
    Odor that's inaccessible because its "contained" or "out of reach".  Can it be both?  -- YES!
    • Contained in – drawers, crates, a pallet, appliance, cabinet, plastic egg, inside vehicle bumper, electrical switch plate
    • Out of Reach -- high, low, deep, on top of stack of pallets, center under dolly, inside child's desk, on a shelf, in a breaker box, far under vehicle
    What is the difference between "bracketing" and "detailing"?
    • Bracketing – The dog can't get to odor source and goes back and fourth, ping-ponging on either side or multiple sides of nearest place to inaccessible hide. 
    • Detailing – Dog moves in and out of scent cone, analyzing concentration and odor quality to move nearer to source. 
    Barbara reiterated that its common to many dogs to move in and out of odor, seemingly leaving odor and the search (as if distracted), as part of their search technique.  She sees this a lot with hunting breeds, possibly related to "quartering"; though other breeds do it too.  Gimme does this, most noticeble with vehicles, but probably always.  This has been a recurring disagreement between Joyce and I.  Because she remembers Gimme being distracted and leaving vehicles in her early searches, she views every time she moves away from the vehicles in that light.  To me the difference between distraction and Gimme's  searching technique is that she turns back before she comes to the end of the leash or before I encourage her to come back AND she doesn't go sniff some obvious distractor.

    "What might be considered inaccessible for one scenario for one dog, may be accessible in another scenario or for another dog or another day."

    Acceptable calls for trial purposes become much more flexible for inaccessible than for accessible hides.  Conditions vary so much as the day progresses, so there may be more than one perfectly valid place to indicate odor for an inaccessible hide.  Certifying official and judges predetermine acceptable limits of indication location.  Even though conditions may change during search, these limits must be adhered to for all competitors, for fairness.

    Q:  When the hide is inaccessible, how does the handler know when to call "alert"?

    • look for the dog to make a decision – relies on handler to read their dog's behavior
    • if the dog was searching for a primary reinforcer they couldn't get to, such as a chunk of hotdog, what behavior would you see from the dog?  that's when you reward...
    When do you start training inaccessible hides?
    • when the dog is proven to be odor obedient
    • when the dog has completed their NW1 title
    • when the handler knows when to reward the dog
    • the first biggest difference between NW1 and NW2 is stamina... so the dog should have it before moving on to inaccessible hide training
    What symptoms will you see if you are doing too many inaccessible hides?  Fringing, too much handler dependence, the dog starts to offer other behavior and/or the dog is confused or gives up on search.

    When setting up for inaccessible hide training always consider safety for both the dog and the handler and consider potential for property destruction.

    When rewarding for inaccessible hides always put treat at odor and then bring down/over to dog, so you get their focus to where the odor actually is.

    If the dog gets struck and you have to "present" an area to the dog to encourage searching... (should only happen on rare occasions)

    • present low, high, then low, then high
    • doing so routinely will teach the dog a pattern so that you can ensure you stop presenting high when the odor is low and would be next
    • use a hand motion as if you were tossing treats
    Remember, there are more than 4 corners in a room for a dog.  We humans only count the four physical corners of the walls.  Dogs "see" with their noses all the corners presented by furniture, closets, alcoves, windows and window seats, cabinets, steps and stair landings, etc.

    Handlers influence their dog's movement with their own movement.  Whether you move in or out to get a specific result depends on the individual dog.

    • is it crowding or support -- or -- is it pushing or pulling the dog
    • our influence about how a dog moves in the space is underrated
    • most dogs are easily crowded and pushed off odor, but some need the support
    • you can move away to test whether the dog is "sticking" to odor
    • you can move to an area to draw a dog into that area
    "Paws on" versus "Pawing"
    • there is a big difference between putting paws on and pawing
    • putting paws on something to access a hide is not the same as pawing
    • that being said, there is such a thing as too much paws on, especially repeatedly going vertical on a vehicle (see discussion about Gimme going vertical at the end of day 2)
    When is Re-cueing appropriate?  When the dog is distracted, when dog is crittering and as a new cue after finding first hide.  Joyce tells us to never recue, because in a NW3 trial there might not be another hide.  That doesn't make sense to me because its equally possible there will be no hide in a clear room and we cue for that.

    When is it appropriate to Re-start the search?  When search is not progressing or when handler is becoming emotional (probably because the search is not progressing <eg>).

    More to follow... with videos of Gimme's searches...