We had five interior searches tonight, all using the same basic layout. There were two tables with chairs, the red cart, three stacks of chairs against the back wall, and three other chairs. The three white circles were two big white buckets with a paint can.
Search 1 - The area was purposely set up to have all the "stuff" on one side of the room. Its pretty common for dogs and handlers to focus on the stuff and ignore blank looking areas. Gimme didn't ignore the blank area, she quickly trotted in a loop through the area midway through her search and then rapidly went straight to the hide.
Search 2 - Search 1 and 2 were back-to-back. We briefly left the search area and turned the dogs away while they
moved in the second hide item, a small plastic cabinet. This time Gimme paid no attention to the blank area, found the new hide first and then the previous hide.
Search 3 - For this search another hide was added on the back of the chair nearest the threshold. All the dogs found the hides fast enough, but none went to the chair hide first, even though for NACSW purposes it would be considered a threshold hide. Dorothy talked about how they are seeing threshold hides are rarely as straight forward as they seem. Gimme liked having three hides to find.
Search 4 - This search only had one hide about a foot up on the wall in the blank area. We were instructed to use our body and motion to aim our focus toward the stuff, but let the dog search however they wanted. This search was about having the owner act like a "dumb handler", ignoring the blank area and focusing, as we and our dogs would tend to, on the stuff. Gimme scanned the stuff and then as she got to near the three stacks of
chairs, she caught the scent and went directly to the hide.
Search 5 -This was set up just the opposite. The hide was on the wall in the stuff end of the room and we handlers were instructed to use our body and motion to aim our focus toward the blank area, but let the dog search however they wanted.
Gimme did what I thought she would do. She rushed into the search area going toward where she expected odor to be and then noticed I was somewhere else. Then she came to check out the area where I was standing, but quickly dismissed it saying, "Mom, you don't know what you're doing."
To me this was exactly like the way we typically do search areas - especially interiors which are commonly off leash. She rushes into the area, past any potential threshold hide. She has always rushed into the area, she's always going to and I see no point in fighting it. So I go with her and then wander back toward the threshold. She notices what I'm doing and comes over to do a courtesy sniff - and sometimes I'm right. If I'm right, she alerts. If not, she goes back to work in the way she thinks best. So this time, noticing I was hanging out away from her, she came over to give the area a courtesy sniff, then went back to work - and had the hide in about five seconds.
She knows my nose is worthless, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, eh. So she's always polite about humoring my ideas.
Now my friends, the couch beckons...