Susanne Howarth

    Hah! Your last comment above has me rolling on the floor, because you and I both know how many times I’ve “adapted” exercises — often unwittingly — and made them not only harder but often darn near impossible! Maybe you CAN teach this old dog new tricks!!!

    Anyhow… you’re right that the wind was blowing from the street to the house, so theoretically, odor should not have been drifting onto that box on which she semi-alerted repeatedly. But that’s theory, right? So I would have to agree that some kind of drifting (or swirling? because the breeze was somewhat strong?) had to be in play. As to whether I read her or just knew she was wrong because I knew where the hide was, I do think I read her looks as guesses: you’ll note that at least the first couple times she alerts on that box, I take an additional step away from it and she immediately comes off the box, which in a trial situation I would have read as her admitting that it was only a guess.

    In her successful NW2 trial, we passed the same two or three boxes probably 3 times before I called the final alert: she kept showing some interest in what turned out to be a distractor box next to the odor box, and then more interest in the odor box (but didn’t stick to it), so we went back and forth a couple times before I sorted out which one had the “right” body language of interest.

    Finally, yes: I think perhaps a good lesson for me from this exercise is that Blackie works very quickly: it took her 4 tries to get her NW2, and we have LOTS of element placement ribbons from those first three no-Title trials, because she DOES decide very fast. A skill I’ll need to develop is to know when she’s adequately covered the search area, and then to call Finish, before she starts offering behaviors and guesses.

    Also an interesting comment regarding praise/acknowledgment being a form of payment — somewhat lower value payment, I would guess? In any case, it’s only recently that I’ve started repaying her for returning to a hide she has already found. When we were first learning, she got paid (fed) once for any given hide. Period. Then, I heard from others, that repaying can be a good strategy. And Ron, in the one and only seminar I’ve attended with him, even said that you should ALWAYS repay. Of course, about 30 seconds later he told me NOT to repay Blackie when she returned to the same hide for about the 6th time 🙂

    Anyhow, she does seem to respond well to just the verbal acknowledgment that she is right, and request that she continue searching. I’ve never had difficulty with getting her to leave a hide and keep working.