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...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nosework (1/13)

We started class with what seemed to be a very simple blind vehicle search (2 white vans).  There were two white vans with two odors.  Gimme went about 2' up the near side of the small van, before going back and going to the near rear wheel of the larger van.  She was there a few seconds before going around the rear and up the right side.  She inspected the front wheel, was briefly distracted by some lingering odor off to the right (exterior search from an earlier class) and then came back to the van, quickly indicating the hide, high in the rear wheel well.  Then she went along the back end of both vehicles and up the left side of the smaller van to find the hide under the front license plate.  Dorothy commented, "Despite her bit of distraction, she still did this search in under 1 minute 10 seconds!"

The big odd green shape I've included in the diagram is what we call "the vortex".  Its a place where two odors converge, creating a challenge for dogs to sort out.  While it was simple for Gimme, the other dogs found it much more difficult. Gimme made it look so easy I didn't even realize there was converging odor until I watched the other dogs.  This was made a bit more challenging because source odors were effectively at the same height - I don't know if it was the same or two different odors.  The wheel well hide was higher, but scent from it was forced lower by the body of the van.  The other dogs spent all this time going back and forth and round and round in the vortex area and their handlers weren't experienced enough to recognize the issue and move them out of there.  Gimme went in the area briefly at the beginning of her search, but didn't stay there.

Our next two searches were in a set of glass racks from the business across the street.  For the first search there were four hides and for the second search there were six.  There was a slight breeze as indicated by the blue arrow.  Many of the racks had glass strapped to them, which also changed air flow.  Our instructions were to walk the line with the dog (staying on the front side) and let them make the decisions.  If the dog passed a hide we weren't to do anything to aid them and let them go past it and not go back toward it unless the dog caught it on their own and insisted.  As we got to the far end, we were to go a bit past the line of racks and do a front cross before going back down the line of racks.

Gimme went down the row catching the first, third and fourth hides, then catching the same ones on the way back.  I think she smelled the third hide from where she was at the first hide, and then caught the fourth as we went past it.  On the reverse path, she caught the fourth hide as we went by it and likewise for the third and first.  We weren't allowed to influence their path, i.e. couldn't use our movement to push them into the spaces between the double sets of racks and with the breeze blowing odor away, I don't think Gimme ever knew the second hide was there.

For the second search there was more of the same.  Gimme (and all the dogs) tried insisting there was still odor at the same place on the first set of racks.  I think since the hides were all further back on the racks, with the dogs' approach from the startline, the lingering odor was the strongest and most likely thing to them.  We were told to wait and let them sort it out.  As the dogs realized they wouldn't be paid for it, they checked other places on the rack, finding the hide further back.  From there Gimme went to the fifth hide and the sixth.  We did our front cross and she found the same ones on the way back.  I think this was predictable and for the same reasons as on the first of these two searches.

The stated idea was - if the dog wasn't allowed to go back to a hide they missed, then they would realize they were missing out on an opportunity to earn reward and would search more carefully the next time around.  There were seven dogs in class and for the four slower ones, this seemed to work out.  There is one moderate speed dog and she did a little better.  All of these dogs slowed down even more than their normally slower (and moderate speed).

For the two faster dogs (Gimme and August, GSD), there was no real change-improvement.  I think for this process to work, the dog actually has to realize there were other hides there and thus, there were rewards they were missing out on.  From Gimme's demeanor, I am certain she believed she'd found all the hides out there.

From my perspective, I don't feel like we learned anything in this class.  The vehicle search was so easy and presented no challenge to Gimme, though it does add to her experience bank.  The way the two glass rack searches were set up, I don't think Gimme learned anything from them.  She never knew there were other hides to find, so has no reason to alter her search style.  Left to our own devices, I would have handled the search differently and I know she would have found them all.

For me, this was frustrating and the first time I've been disappointed by class.  It probably feels worse because we ended the morning (tracking) on a frustrating note.  On the other hand - - - Gimme is so talented and experienced, it only makes sense to find she'll learn less and less, eh...

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