For the Feb 3rd classes, I wanted to build value in source by getting the dogs lots of rewards at source, as well as fine tuning their response to odor. For some dogs, this means eliminating a giant paw swat near source. The dogs all put their noses to source, but then some immediately swipe/swat at or towards source. Other dogs dig or scratch at source. And still others get to source, then quickly look back at the handlers. What I’d like to see is the dogs staying at source longer with their NOSES. This could mean a nose bump, a double / triple nose touch at source (like Koda) or a momentary freeze, like Panda and Gidget are showing.
I tried to set up simple “hides” where there was not a lot of hunting required to get to source, and had everyone toss treats when the dogs were at source. My thought was to keep the handlers out of the picture (to eliminate the quick look back some dogs were doing) and be quick enough w/ the treats falling to reward the dogs before the paw came out. You can see by the videos there were mixed results with the tossing! Some treats were too light, so they arced through the air too slowly, and the dogs were able to paw, or the treat was tossed at the wrong moment – after the paw, or while the dog was looking. Another issue that came up was the dogs caught us moving – they sensed our movement as we wound up to toss the treats, and this pulled their attention off source and onto us.
Yet, there were times when it worked well, and you can see this in the videos. The dogs would chase down a treat, then go right back to source waiting for the next treat. But wait, aren’t we supposed to reward AT SOURCE? Yes, but… at this point the dogs all know that SOURCE brings reward. So we have a little leeway in where the reward falls. I don’t want to always do this, but it’s an exercise that we can pull out every so often. Some dogs really like chasing down the rolling treats, then going back to source to make it happen again. So in some ways, it can jazz up some dogs. If we paused in our tossing, we started seeing the dogs staying with source, waiting for the next treat to fall. Chase a treat, go back to source and freeze – chase down a treat. Go back to source and freeze, chase down a treat. They looked like they had trapped a mouse, and were just waiting for him to pop out of the hole 🙂
Here are the videos from 2/3:
So, the following week, I wanted to set hides so that the dogs could hold their position at them – yet not knock the tins off if they snuck in a paw, and not be able to grab them and retrieve them. So, I placed the hides behind or under doors, right at the seam between door and floor, or door and door jam. These proved to be more difficult than I anticipated! The doors I used closed off rooms that were on the outside of the building, so most closed rooms were colder than the room we were searching. Was the odor sucking into that room, and not coming out into the room the dogs were searching? Was it that the dogs were / are so used to finding source they can bump/knock/push with their nose, that when faced with source without a tin or plastic container or box, they were not quite sure that was it? Either way, they all worked HARD for these finds! At this point, I’d like to have you toss a treat or 2 EN ROUTE to hand delivering additional treats. When you get to your dog, wait for their nose to get back to source before passing out a treat or 2. When you reload your treat hand, again, wait for their nose to get back to source before coming in fast with the food.
There were some really nice changes in behavior – head snaps, change in direction, arcing their noses up walls as they cast about for odor. Note the difference between your dog in odor (they know odor is present and are working) and working to source. I see the “working to source” behavior as that bright recognition that they are hot on the trail – they know they are close, and are more intense and excited and confident. This occurs in the moments leading up to them getting to source.
Here are some of the videos from this week