Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
UWPCH, ADPL3(2), ADPL3(GC), NC, NI, NE, SCN, SIN, SEN, CZ8B, NV and NN... 47 and counting...

Monday, January 20, 2014

88 Percent Club

It was a very good trial, even though we didn't title.  We got 7 out of 8 hides, thus the subject for this entry.  The trial site layout was really nice and the hosts were very good.  Only 4 dogs out of 34 titled (12%).  I didn't really think we were ready so soon after our holiday training vacation, so I'm happy it went this well. I started the day doing a container drill at a local post office.  I also set up three hides on some mail trucks.  I like this and when we do it, I notice she gets right down to business on the first search of the day.


We had two rooms, the first room, the hide was under a table leg.  Gimme found it fast (24.37 secs).  The second room had two hides, one six feet in along the wall on a hinge, close to the floor.  The other was in a stapler on a desk along the opposite wall.  Gimme found it really quickly.  She kept going back to investigate a group of desks nearby, going around and around them, checking up on the desks and the chairs below.  She'd gone through the rest of the room, so I just believed she was onto something.

The picture below roughly represents the room.  The triangle low and on the right side is the doorway.  The black are all big desks or tables.  The orange are children's desks, with the "x" at the top where the stapler was.  The green are wall cabinets, with "x" for odor on hinge.  I've drawn the swirling area where she got caught up.  Her searching pattern is pretty classic for a converging odor vortex and I should have recognized it and drawn her out of it.  I also failed to notice the air current from ceiling vents, which complicated the search.  My bad.

The judge's comment was "Very good job moving dog on from found odor."  I think she is referring to when Gimme goes back to where she'd already found a hide.  I always just repeat "Thank you.  Find me another one."  Gimme knows what it means and moves away on her own.

The judge commented in her debrief, while most people took time at the start line to let their dog scent in front of them, she noticed those who didn't wait for their dog to scan in both directions were more likely to miss the threshold hide on the cabinet.  Usually the dogs tend to scan left and right taking in the area ahead of them.  Gimme did turn right into the room and likely rounded the corner when she came through the area of the second hide going counter-clockwise around the room.  Also she does tend to search high more than low, especially if I haven't worked a lot of low hides.

NOTE TO SELF:  Wait for her to scan both directions before starting search.  And work a bunch of low hides in the week before trials.


This search was a pretty big area, including a wall and part of a driveway along one side and then moving out into a picnic area of about 10 tables in a pavilion, with a couple trash cans.  The start cones were set up on the near end of the wall.  In starting, even though I had us in between the cones, Gimme stepped to the left of the cone.  The rules say they have to pass through the cones to start, so I swung her around and through them (taking up probably 5 seconds).  I was told by several people she might be faulted anyway, but she wasn't.  I think the reason she stepped left was because the hide was along the bottom edge of the wall, so she was going direct to odor and when I swung her around I was actually pulling her away from odor!  I'm lucky she didn't get too frustrated and refuse to work for me.

The second hide was on a joint on one picnic table.  Gimme was all over the table as soon as she got close to it, even jumping up on it.  She worked the hide well and indicated dead on odor.  We got both hides in 57.35 seconds.  Judge's comment:  "Good Job!"

NOTE TO SELF: Line the dog up centered between the cones (not self).  Make sure line is short enough so the dog can only go forward through the cones.


There were four vehicles, set up as shown in the picture.  One small motor home (dark pink), two SUVs (green & blue) and one small trailer (orange).  The grey shows brick buildings and the red cones and line is the start.  The two SUVs were nosed in facing each other and odor was behind the license plates on both, about 3 feet apart.

Hides this close really isn't too hard for the dogs, but its a total psych-out for the handlers.  Gimme found the license plate on blue SUV very quickly, but then spent a lot of time on the other end of the green SUV.  She also briefly checked out the trailer and the far side of the motor home.  She checked the end of the motor home and the side nearest the green SUV.  The breeze was blowing from blue toward green and was probably swirling toward the motorhome because of the walls.

Gimme came back to the hide on the blue SUV twice.  Then she finally came back between them and searched all over the front of the green SUV, settling on the license plate and gave me her alert again.  I fell for the psyche out, but when her paw came up and I got the look, I had no choice, I had to "trust your dog" and called alert.  The judge said, "You already got this hide".  Then she went on to say she'd seen me pull her away from the other hide on the other license plate three times.  To which I said, I thought the other was the one we'd alerted to first, thus why I'd cued her to find another hide.  Fortunately they video tape all runs, so she was able to check the tape and verify we were correct.  Gimme got this challenging search in 1:56 minutes.  We had a laugh when I said, "Gimme often proves herself to be smarter than me and now she's shown she is smarter than a judge.  Welcome to my world."

Judge's comment on the sheet:  "Great Work!"  She was very apologetic for the mix up...  Another funny was, when she went to check the video, the judge instructed me to move myself and Gimme to a specific place so we weren't standing in odor and not working.  So the stewards from the next search (possibly thinking I was confused and leaving the area) were calling me, "No Carla, come this way for containers.  We're ready for you."  And I yelled back, "I can't.  I'm following instructions, for once."  Everyone there who knows me laughed a LOT.

Gimme did earn a fault for putting her feet up on the door of the motor home.  Dogs can put their feet on bumpers, running boards and tires, but not on painted surfaces.  Hides will never be placed in a way which encourages the dogs to go up on the sides of vehicles, still odor can climb a surface based on air current and a dog might chase it up the side of the vehicle.  And of course, she is allowed to put her feet up on desks, desks, cabinets and walls in other searches as needed.  This is something we'll have to work on, but I'm still puzzling through how to make the various okay versus not-okay distinctions for her. 


There were 26 containers of various types and 9 boxes, set in a sort of spiral out from the center.  Gimme quickly moved along the right side of the spiral, giving an extra sniff to a floral patterned box.  Then she quickly moved along the far side of the spiral, doing an impressive snap back, followed by intense sniffing on another box, which she left on her own as I moved past it.  Right next to it she got serious and alerted on the handle of a bag laying flat on the floor.  She did this in 19.93 seconds.  Judge's comment:  "Yay for you!"

We found out during the debrief that the floral box contained two tennis balls.  Gimme likes to chase balls, but she's not a maniac about it.  The other box contained a muffin with peanut butter on it.  That's the one Gimme left when I moved by it.  She's the best!

I thought she was too vigorous with her paw on the bag, but we did not get faulted.  Still its not the behavior I want.  I remembered to move her out from the search area, so she wouldn't be attracted to any boxes in case she had an urge to demolish something.


I was very happy with Gimme's efforts all day.  She worked intently and with focus and going right to odor every time she could.  There was none of her recent tendency to indicate "close enough" to odor, without getting to source (which has been happening a lot since the inaccessible hides seminar).  I have finally decided how I want to train this issue; I'll use differential reinforcement, which is a concept Gimme understands.  In training I'll set up an inaccessible hide and when she indicates what I consider only "close enough" she will be rewarded with cheese.  Then I'll show her exactly where odor is and reward as close as she can get.  Then we'll leave and re-enter the search area and when/if she goes and really tries to get to source, then she'll get the good stuff, either pork or peanut butter.  She's a real smarty and I'm sure she'll figure out how to get the good stuff.

The other thing I was very happy with was her paw indicators.  They were all very nice, except the one on the container search and even so, it was not bad enough to earn a fault.  I did notice Gimme did something new for the warm up boxes.  The first indication would include a scratch on the box, but then as I stood there, she'd stand beside the box and reach out to the side and tap the box with her paw, asking for more goodies.  I'd repeatedly give her treats for the taps... probably 25 taps over the course of the day.  This tells me she is really starting to understand what I want and is trying to give it to me.  In the heat of the moment, she may do an indication which is too vigorous, but she's really trying and making substantial improvement.

We are both tired and staying home today to rest up.  Gimme has an appointment at 3:00 for a bodywork session.

LATE BREAKING:  The bodywork session went very well.  Tonya was surprised, but all the corrections from last week held.  She did mostly energy work today. 


Monumental Dalmatians said...

Good girl, Gimme. Glad she is working so well for you. Does this mean she earned a new title or legs?

A to Z Dals said...

They must qualify in all four elements on the same day. So no, there wasn't a title... but its still much better than our 2 prior attempts, so I feel hopeful about next month. The pass rate in NW2 is averaging 10%.

BTW when we get to NW3 level, she can earn legs toward element titles... I haven't read up on it, but I think it takes three qualifying legs in a specific element to get an element title. They are even starting to have element only trials - not sure how that works. The pass rate for an NW3 trial is about 3% - that is one dog out of 35...