Well, I finally uploaded the video from class a few weeks ago, where we did the office area upstairs. That was a challenging night, and looking back at the video, I wish I had done simpler hides, and when I saw the dogs being so distracted by dog odor, I should have had the dog find one, reward well, and leave. They don’t always have to find EVERY hide that’s out there, especially if it’s a very challenging area for that particular dog. And this area proved challenging for everyone. Logan had the challenge of getting up the stairs, Bella was SUPER distracted by dog smells, Max was weirded out by dog smells. And poor Max – only one set of lights were on for his first search, so the video is really dark. Another thing I did thinking it would help, but in reality I think it hurt, was to set the second hides near the first. I thought it would help the dogs “get on the right track” (they would check the old hide area, then realize the hide is now nearby) In reality, the dogs just got stuck alerting on where source HAD been, and refused to keep searching. Ugh.
So, fast forward to this week. I wanted to revisit that area, and set hides in a nice obvious place. So there were 3 hides on the file cabinet – low, mid height and low. The fourth hide was in a metal lunch box, of which there were 4 total. These were untested containers – I had no idea how much odor would be coming out. The hides were super close together, which hopefully created a nice cloud of odor to get them in the game. On the other hand, the hides were super close together, which proved challenging for the dogs to piece out. They got the 2 low hides, and then would ping pong between the one on the right and the on on the left, never looking up to get the mid-height one in the middle. The lunch box hide did prove to have odor escaping, however, when compared with tins with holes in them, the weaker odor from the lunch box wasn’t enough to keep Max and Bella at it. The lunch box also had all 3 odors in it, so maybe they weren’t as familiar with the triple combination?
The second run was fun to watch them work the windowsill hide, the lunch box in a new location, but the 3rd and final hide was the killer. It was over all the dogs heads – maybe 4ft high? I think Max was the quickest at locating this one, and he is the smallest dog! Again, the dogs got hung up on lingering odor/slobber/crumbs, the cocktail that’s close to what pays (source/slobber/crumbs). This high hide is an example of accepting less to get more. If we had been able to reward while the dog was sniffing up, even though they had not quite decided, we would be accepting less than we normally look for. However, by doing that, the hope is that NEXT time when presented with a similar height, the will be more apt to stay up and make the decision that they are as close as they can get. It was tough to reward them, because they would be right under source sniffing up, then peel off before handlers could get in. Or, they looked like they had narrowed it down and any second would lock it down, but would peel off before making their decision. As you watch the video of this tough hide, think about where maybe we could have rewarded earlier, even when they hadn’t made their final decision.
Overall, I think they all did a LOT better in this room this week, and got past the dog distractions quickly. And, I think they all went into the alcove where a hide had been the other week, something they needed human assistance with last time.
Random things to make note of: Many times your dog will work odor on the opposite wall or object from the hide. Note some of the dogs work the black chair then turn to the file cabinet. Random thing #2: Water will hold odor. Isaac goes straight from the water bowl to a hide in the first video, and Izzie goes from the water bowl to the windowsill hide in the second video. Something to think about in an exterior search where there may be puddles… or snow! Random thing #3: How can you get your dog to move off one hide, to a second, and then a third, in a small space? I know these first 3 file cabinet hides were REALLY close, but watch your body position in the room, proximity to your dog, shoulders and hips and where they are facing when you’re trying to get your dog to move. Many times, if you are square to your dog, you are basically telling them to stay put! If you instead rotate your body and turn AWAY from the area you want them to leave, they will come with you. Not always, but many times.
Anyway, here they are – enjoy!