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, June 9, 2014

Nosework (5/3)

I’ve been worrying with the false pregnancy Gimme might not be up to the task for this Sunday’s trial, especially given how unfocused she was for agility last Thursday.  So far I don’t see any waning of her desire during class or practices.  However, once we start the drive home, she fusses and whines the whole time – not stopping until she is reunited with the babies.  Right now the babies consists of a blue elephant, a snow elf and two super cows.  She certainly likes variety, eh…

Class tonight was about two different things… I love knowing what I’m learning.

The first task was to observe how our dog handles channel hides.  We started with a series of three one hide searches, with odor placed under a long edge, which forms a channel for the odor to travel.  One was under the center of a brick ledge on the front of the building, the second was under the metal support strip running across the inside of the building’s garage door, and the third was under the edge of a shelving unit.  Gimme did great with these, she’s always been good at channel hides. 

Our last task of the evening was an added low hide on the garage door: two hides, 6 feet apart, at different heights.  Gimme got the low one right away.  It took her awhile to find the higher one because the odor seemed to drift over and catch on a bunch of junk on shelves about 5 feet way. And, I can’t help but brag -- Gimme was the only one out of five who wasn’t kept in the area by handler restraint.  She knew there was more odor there and persisted until she found it.

The other set of hides were vehicles where we first did it with one hide, then came back later and there were two.  The lesson was to observe the difference in how our dog performed the search when there was only one hide versus two.  There were four vehicles (the dreaded white vans from last week), but only the three closest were part of the search.  The three were set up in a diagonal where each vehicle was 4 feet farther back than the one to its left (as we viewed them from the start line).  The start line pointed us to the closest vehicle.

Right off the bat Gimme went down the left side of the nearest vehicle, paying no attention to it, and no attention to the rear of the next closest vehicle.  She quickly swung around the back end of the rightmost van and paid a lot of attention to the rear wheel.  Just as I was thinking she might need to go to the other side, she went on her own before I could act on the thought.  We left the search area passing between the first and second vehicles.  I watched two other dogs get caught up on the front tire of the first vehicle, between the two and suspected there was lingering odor from earlier classes.

The second time we had two hides, the one where I thought there was lingering odor and the the original one.  Gimme started down the left side of the nearest vehicle, then snapped back to check out the tire.  She very quickly went around to find the other hide.  For a bit I thought maybe the hide was on the other front tire because she spent so much time sniffing behind the tire, but then she came around to the front and found source.  From there she traveled back and found the hide from the prior search.

There were a couple of cool things I realized as a result of the vehicle searches…
  • Gimme no longer goes “shopping”.  She loves hunting and would often go past hides without alerting, so she could keep hunting.  Since Dorothy suggested we use peanut butter to reward nosework, Gimme has stopped shopping and goes directly to odor when she detects it.
  • Another affect of this is, she is more clear about when a search area or vehicle doesn’t have any odor.  It used to be, as a part of her shopping strategy to prolong the hunt, Gimme would pointedly ignore small rooms or sheds containing odor and then go in to check out the ones with none.  For awhile, I thought I’d know whether a room was blank or not by deciphering based on Gimme’s contrary approach.  Now if there’s odor she goes directly to it and if there isn’t any, she can’t be bothered.
  • And, interesting – we found out at the end of the vehicle search, food had been pushed through the rim to the back of the front wheel where the second hide was placed.  So while Gimme did make an effort to get to the food, she only did it when there was odor there, unlike the two dogs who got stuck there on the first search.
Yeah Gimme, the Mighty Odor Hunter…  cross your fingers she does well this Sunday.

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