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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nosework (1/8 & 2/8)

We didn't have RallyFrEe class last week, thus no tracking either.  It was a perfect skip week, since it was the week before Valentines and I had a LOT of extra work to do, just to keep up with my accounts.  Gimme says she didn't sign on to be bored to death.  She is so mistreated.

I didn't post about nosework class last week because there just wasn't much to post.  We did three different searches, but they were all box drills and all went back to basics - i.e. right back to the first few weeks of nosework training.  We had boxes and other stuff, but there was tons of treats for self-serve in the odor boxes.  When the dog first found odor, we didn't have to do anything because they were self-serving treats.  If they went back to a box after cleaning it out, then we were to add more treats.  

Honestly I don't much see the point.  Sure its fun for the dogs and it builds value to odor...  but I'd think with several years of being paid to find odor and the NACSW obsession with pairing most of the time, odor should already have a lot of value.  If it doesn't, then a person needs to rethink how they are training and especially their reward system.

Then this week we started class with pretty much the same exercise.  Only this time it was outside along an exterior wall.  There were three boxes about ten feet apart, followed by three small containers about five feet apart.  All were loaded with the dog's treats so they could self-serve.  When we did this - I noticed I ceased to exist on the way down the wall and there was a frantic quality to her searching.  On the way back, I existed again, but I saw Gimme had a tendency to check the box and finding no self-serve, she moved on too quickly for me to add treats.  I fail to see how this is a good thing.

Fortunately we had other exercises to redeem the time spent.  

We did an exterior container search of 12 containers - 2 odors and 10 distracters.  Gimme did really well with this, though I flunked because I called alert when she really wasn't indicating.  I wasn't working my container plan, so it was completely my fault.  I did find the reason why I didn't work my plan kind of interesting.  The containers were on a sidewalk, two-by-two along the edges.  If I had found this same configuration on a floor, I would have walked the outside of the containers and I think I would have worked my plan.  However, for some reason, having this layout on a sidewalk, I felt like I had to walk down the sidewalk, which gave me little room to maneuver.  It was a purely unconscious constraint, which I didn't realize until after the search was done.

Our next search (second and third) was a two room search.  In both rooms there was an area by doors which was taped off to indicate it wasn't in play.  You will see this at NW3 level, where you may move from one interior search through a door right into another search area.  A dog might smell odor coming under the door from the other room and could chose to indicate it, as if it was an inaccessible hide.  In this case, both interior doors were taped off - one led to a room where used boxes are often stored and the other led to the next search area.   Also in the second room, there was a line of tape all the way across the room, dividing it in half, and the area on the far side was not part of the search area.  We could let our dogs cross the line, knowing there would be no odor there.  

Our job as handlers was to observe our dogs and be able to call at 1 minute in the first room and 2 minutes in the second room, if odor was present and/or if there were additional hides.  In the first room, Gimme nose-scanned the room and not finding anything of interest spent most of her time near the two doors.  She went around again and checked out the toys and then back to the area near the doors.  I called it "clear" and was correct.  

In the second room, I let Gimme go down into the area past the tape and watched to see if she was following odor back (she's done this many times, so I don't immediately assume she isn't on something) or just scanning.  When I decided it was scanning (head up), then I called her back.  Shortly after she found odor under a chair.  Almost immediately she went back to the area past the tape and wasn't prompt in returning when I called her.  Later Dorothy made a point - saying Gimme's failure to return the first time I called her was information - she was saying right then, "don't think there is anything there - gonna check here."  

From there I got her into the most forward part of the area, where she really hadn't searched yet.  She kind of sniffed around a group of boxes, but didn't commit to anything.  Dorothy explained, the day before there had been odor in the corner where the boxes were, so Gimme was getting something, but it was just very old lingering odor.  At just before 2 minutes I called "finish" and was correct again.

Normally we don't get this many searches, but there were only three of us in class last night.  So, for our fifth search, Dorothy put odor back behind the boxes attached to a broom handle, so we could see how our dogs acted around those boxes when there was really something there.  It was set up to be inaccessible.  Gimme came in and quickly went past the tape again.  Partly this is because the bathroom fan was on, so it was drawing scent toward the bathroom.  I called Gimme back and she quickly found the hide she'd found before.  She seemed tickled to find Dorothy "forgot" and left it there in the same place. Then she moved toward the boxes pretty much on her own, with just a little movement on my part.  She showed them how "inaccessible" is a matter of opinion, by shoving the boxes aside and accessing source.  

Ya gotta love her boldness.

We don't have nosework next week.  I do have RallyFrEe and tracking on Thursday this week and next.  I will be volunteering at an NW2 trial on Sunday morning, so maybe there will be something to blog about then too.

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