Tuesday evening in Saco… what a gorgeous night! Breezy, comfortable temperatures, clear skies, no bugs… it doesn’t get any better than that!
We HAD to work outside, it was so nice, and I wanted to do a large area with no odor, and then an area with hides in it. I felt that some of the sluggishness people felt in the Exterior in the York trial was because it was a LARGE space, and the two hides were fairly close together. Other than that, there was a lot of space with nothing going on. I wanted to set something up so we could see the difference in the dogs when no odor was present vs when they were in odor.
What I SHOULD have done, is the reverse of what we did, but, next time. Here is what we did, and what I would do differently.
The first two searches were set in bucolic horse country. We did a search area where there were no hides for about 1/2 mile – ok, not that far, but pretty far. The search area was lawn, with a wooden fence, a tree and a whiskey barrel. There was a constant breeze from right to left, so no breeze to bring odor to the dogs. The dogs had to trudge along for a ways to finally get to the hide on a tree, and then one flat on the ground on the edge of the pavement. Many look bored, look like they want to pee, there was even a mutiny – “I will sit here until you tell me why we are out here”.
Here is what it looked like:
What I should have done first, is what I had you run next. And that was a search area with 2 hides right up front, and then a long section of no odor. The dogs looked happy to make a find right off the bat, and then sort of looked like they were out for a walk, checking out the horses and donkey, checking the only “things” in the search area – trees, and fence. I think it would have been better to start with this search area, to keep the dogs motivation up, and then move to the area we did first. Maybe they would have had more drive to find odor, if they’d done a search with odor right off the start line. Something you may want to play around with in practice… starting w/ odor right up front, then a little farther in, and finally pretty far from the start. I want the dogs thinking, “There HAS to be odor out here, where is it, gosh darn it!” Not, “ho hum, what are we doing? Hmm… someone peed here, oh, there’s a horse over there…”
Lastly, we did a smaller search area with 3 hides, all converging to some degree. This was the “ghetto search” area. Two hides were in matching cubbies on the dumpster. One was inaccessible, the other accessible – I think that was really clear to see how the dogs sort out the accessible vs inaccessible, and then there was the hide on the propane tank. The longer the odor sat, the more it rolled up over the top of the tank, and that was fun to watch. I enjoyed giving the dogs lots of available odor for their last search! I think they did, too.
Thanks for a fun class!