Wow, I have a fair amount of video that I never finished organizing on YouTube, and never posted here. So here are some spring and summer flashbacks!
May 6th – York Wed Night Class: Exterior, off leash, open area
The hides were arranged in an X pattern, with 4 metal chairs at each point of the X. The idea here was lots of rewards, let the dog free search and walk into odor. It was somewhat blind to the handler, as the tins were in the grass, but it was obvious when the dog was on it. There were 3 tins in close proximity at the center point of the X, so it was interesting to see them realize there were several hides close together. As you watch the videos, watch as the dogs get close to the hides, triangulate the location, and then tell you when they’ve found it. Also, note your proximity to your dog – are you influencing them? pushing them in one direction or another? Is this intentional, as in, we’ve found a hide, now lets check another area?… or, is it, I know there are more hides over here, wink wink? Are you clearing an area with them, or directing them to where you think the next hide lies? I liked the freedom the dogs experienced, and how they chose to use it! None wandered to the fence to sniff or pee, they all were on task hunting (well, there’s always an exception to every rule!). There was a lot of blank space outside the X, of course, the dogs didn’t know the hides were in a pattern, so they would sometimes work into the blank space, then move back to a line. The object was not that they hit every hide in order, more that they freely move in and out of odor, and work their way toward source over and over. Well done!
June 2nd – Saco Tue Night NW2 Class: 2 Rooms, one with 2 hides, one SMALL room with one hide
The idea here was to see the dogs work the larger L shaped rooms independently – did they need help getting the corners, were they able to find both hides fairly independently? And how did they do in the small rooms, is there so much odor available that it made it difficult to source? The laundry room proved particularly challenging – the dryer was on, it was hot, smelled strongly of fabric softener, there were piles of dog laundry on the floor, the window was open… can we throw any more obstacles at them? The hide was on the bottom front edge of the dryer. It seemed that the odor was being sucked behind the dryer and coming out in the back of the machines. The poor dogs really worked hard on that one!
The NW1 Class was at that point mostly dogs who had obtained their NW1 title in April, so they did NW2 type hides, but I adjusted the laundry room hide. By swiveling the tin to the front of the dryer from the bottom, the dogs had a much easier time sourcing this. I had also slid the laundry baskets forward, to sort of frame the hide and odor, during Billie Sue’s run. So you can see the dogs catch odor on the white laundry basket and work it down.
June 15 – Saco Continuing NW Class
This was a small class of just Phil and Gidget… not sure why I didn’t get more video of Gidget 😦 This was a fun class in that we did a smallish exterior area, similar to what you’d see in a NW1 trial. Fairly simple, jus a picnic table and tree and fence, but complex in the dog odors on the fence and on the ground, food smells around the table, and breeze blowing all sorts of farm smells Another new thing for the dogs were the boundary flags, something you will see a lot of at trials. We did high hides (on the table and on the tree) and hides on the underside of the table and benches, resulting in some leash handling practice!
July 15 – York Wed NW2/NW3 Class – wind currents
This was a hot night, so all fans were on high. Overhead plus 3 floor fans. I set up “wind screens” – the tables and ring gates, and the dogs were free to work it however they wanted. I was hoping that the tables and ring gates would collect some odor, and they did, although with the swirling air currents, it still proved challenging. The easiest hide was in the “room” (behind the screens) where there was the least amount of air movement. These were some LONG searches! Building endurance in challenging conditions!
Aug 5 – York Wed NW2/NW3 Class – outside tables & chairs
This was to simulate some of the exterior searches we see at trials, where there are picnic tables and chairs. Not having picnic tables, this was the next best thing. Sometimes the hide is on the chairs, table, or on a wall or on the ground nearby. This shows how your dog works pooling odor, and distinguishes 2 close-by hides. And, gave everyone a chance to practice their leash handling around chairs and under tables. The “coffee table” in between the 2 long tables, had been used to cut fresh squid (note the ink) so it was an added distraction. Although, none of the dogs seemed to be to thrown off by it.
Wed Aug 19 – York Wed night class
LITTLE boxes. We hadn’t done something like this in a looong time… all small boxes, with the overhead fans and floor fans on. My phone died after the first run, so unfortunately I only got the first run, which showed the dogs were a little rusty. We did this off leash, to really let the dogs work it and chase odor as they needed, without being impeded by the leash. I think most of the dogs walked by a hide on this first pass – was it because they were not used to the small boxes? Was the odor just moving all over the place? Teddy had some trouble, I think I ended up turning the fans off for him, which REALLY helped. I think he just doesn’t quite have the experience w/ moving odor – the odor was being moved by the fans and pooling up on the mirrors, wall and chairs near the box. He didn’t false alert, which is the good news, and he didn’t get any of the treats that were on the table left over from my Basic Manners class. He just started to go flat and get frustrated. Turning the fans off REALLY made the scent picture clear for him. So, we’ll have to do more work w/ pooling and moving odor. I’m sorry I didn’t get his successful run on video. And, having various sized containers is also a good idea. A small (tiny!) box with 4 Qtips has a higher concentration of odor than a large box with the same amount of Qtips. The dogs really had to check each of the tiny boxes, and it couldn’t be just a running sniff (Max!) We did the next runs on leash, because after all, container searches are done on leash, but tried to allow the dogs to work as freely as they were when off leash. If I remember, the dogs were much quicker to make decisions on the hot boxes in the next runs.
Ok, I have to get better at TAKING video, and POSTING video in a more timely manner! This will be my fall resolution, especially as trials are coming up fast!