Wow, thank you all for braving the cold – again! This time it was 2 degrees on my ride home, so I appreciate your dedication to your dogs! Having a trial 3 weeks away certainly provides some good motivation!
So, we did 2 blind rooms in a row, and ended with a 3rd blind room. While not every search was perfect, I think we learned some good things.
Room 1 – the Orange room. 1 Hide, Inaccessible
I learned that we have not done inaccessible hides in quite some time! Tyrah probably has the least amount of experience with inaccessible hides, and she had a tough time making a final decision. Jeanne, meanwhile, was waiting for Tyrah to pinpoint, or at least pick one area on one of the yellow buckets – before calling Alert. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve done inaccessible hides – Jeanne forgot they exist! Roxie, too, took a little longer than her normal to make her decision – clearly, she was in odor, but she really chased it along the wall (love seeing her stop at the leash hanging down, then going back to the buckets) was at the buckets, then left them – really working hard to find the strongest source of odor. A brief hang up on the towel under a barrel, where she showed a lot of interest, but it wasn’t target odor interest. BB came in very flat, sort of looked like he was going through the motions or sleep walking. Well, after sitting in the warm car for an hour and half, I think he WAS sleepwalking! I think with BB and Logan, we learned to cool them down before working them, to energize them. Being too warm certainly makes me want to take a nap, but a blast of cool air and moving around will wake me up. So at the trial coming up, I would suggest turning off the engine, or at least turning the heat way down, as your run approaches. And then when on the way to the search areas, get him moving. A little jog, a little “touch it”, something that gets the blood flowing. You don’t want to go from a super warm car and then stand in the staging area in 25 degree temps, he’ll need a chance to acclimate to the cool and not stiffen up. Think of your dog like an athlete, who is constantly trying to regulate their temperature – they don’t want to sweat too much in cold temps, then stand around – you run the risk of hypothermia. And in warm weather, you don’t want to get close to overheating, and then exert yourself. Keeping limber and the muscles warm is the goal. Logan was a little flat, but not as much as BB. He was also the quickest to make a decision at the buckets – I said Yes before Mike called it, trying to avoid the paw I had a feeling would come out.
Rm 2 – the Breakroom. 1 Hide – well…. maybe there were 2
In this room, I learned to trust the dog – or at least check his work – because he’s the one with the nose! Tyrah went first. I had placed all the hides at 5:45p. We worked them starting at about 7:45p. So they had some time to cook, and I had some time to forget exactly where I placed them. In the Breakroom, when I was initially placing this hide, I thought I’d put it on a metal step stool folded up, directly under the sleeves of a purple jacket hanging on the wall. But then I thought, Ah, I think they’ll see the tin, so why don’t I put it lower down, on the corner of the step, near some folded up plastic chairs. Well, when Tyrah chose the lower left corner of the stool, and Jeanne said Alert, I was still thinking it was in line w/ the purple sleeves. Tyrah was insistent, and then I remembered – Oh yeah! She’s right! Bad judge. Sarah and Roxie did well – Roxie showed interest in the lockers, but Sarah was brave and called Finish. BoomBoom “false alerted” on the edge of the white folded up chairs, over near the table in the corner. It was a very clear alert, but not where I had placed a hide. He did almost the exact same alert on the metal step stool, so we thought it was curious, but I didn’t check his work. Fast forward to my NW2 class on Tuesday night, and I did the exact same hide in the break room. And guess what? Catcher, a NW1 level Corgi, alerted on the same place BB had. I said no, since I had not placed a hide there that night. BUT – it was such a clear beautiful alert, and in the EXACT same place BB had done his clear, beautiful alert, so this time I checked Catchers work. Lo and behold… 3 chairs deep, was a Birch tin. This must have been left on the chairs 3 weeks ago, when we did some searches on chairs in the Orange room. So a belated Great job, BoomBoom!!! INTERESTINGLY, he was the only NW3 dog to find that hide. So this room was not one of my best performances as a trainer!
Rm 3 – the Tub room – 1 hide, accessible
So this room was used for the previous class. I had only placed hides on the metal steps; the tin had been all over the steps, and dog slobber and treat crumbs were also all over the steps. A lot of the dogs seemed reluctant to get get all the way to the tub and steps. Was it because I was standing there? I purposely placed hot containers next to me last week, to see if the dogs would not want to get in my space (they had not problems) Once the handlers moved a bit into that side of the room, the dogs spent more time and worked it more thoroughly. So, note to self… yes, trust your dog, but also be mindful of how throughly they covered an area. Just a step or two by you can make a big difference.
I thought these were good searches with good handling. A few blips here and there, but overall a good class. I did the exact same hides (orange room, break room and tub room) for my NW2 class the following night. It is SO different when you know the # of hides! Their searches went much faster, and when I mentioned that to them, the fact that they were working NW3 hides and doing really well, they challenged you all to a sniff-off! I think I’ll give each class 2 rooms. One where you know the # of hides, and one where you only know there are 0-3. I’ll give each class the same rooms and same hides, and video both. I think it will be fun for you NW3 folks to know the # of hides, and it will be an eye opener for the NW2 folks to NOT know the # of hides! So I hope you all accept the challenge 🙂 I may do it after our trial but I think it’ll be fun.
Oh – here is the link to the videos from class
Your homework this week is to get out someplace new and do a couple hides. It could be a parking lot, outside a building, your banks ATM vestibule, etc. And it doesn’t have to be a half day project – pack 2 tins, go for a short drive, plant your hides, run your dog and head home! Keep it simple – the important thing is getting someplace novel and doing NW. I have to practice what I preach!!
Let’s hope for warmer temps, and I’ll see you all next week.