Susanne Howarth

NW 301.5 Keeping Up with the Joneses

Because of the limited time remaining for this course, I’m stitching multiple lesson 5 searches together for this one. Note that although I did the “bonus” search of a textured wall, I skipped the column next to a building search, since there isn’t any such location around my home. Here’s the video for the six searches we did:

The hides (and video segments) are as follows, listed in the sequence in which we did them:

1. Inside Corner: Birch – no breeze :00 to :49
2. Standalone Post: Anise – light breeze :50 to 1:29

Break to cook new hides

3. Middle of a Wall (the Garage Door): Birch – light breeze, left to right across the door 1:30 to 1:55
4. Outside Corner: Birch – light breeze, 1:56 to 2:24

Break to cook new hides

5. Trash Container: Birch – stronger breeze, 2:25 to 2:54
6.Textured Wall: Clove – not much breeze, 2:55 to 3:44

This lesson has been interesting for me, because I generally think that both of my dogs are pretty good at high hides – we’ve worked them fairly often. However, Blackie initially seemed challenged by these individual searches. As a point of comparison, I always run Biscuit first (my “dog in white”) and then Blackie. For the first two hides (Inside Corner and Standalone Post) Biscuit alerted after 12 seconds on the inside corner and 10 seconds for the post. Minutes later (with no surprise distracters!), it took Blackie 42 seconds to find the corner hide and 36 seconds to find the post. Both times are just fine, but I find it interesting that it took Blackie so much longer, since she is usually the faster one on searches.

I suppose Biscuit’s speed may be because there was one and only one hide for each of these, and perhaps Blackie’s slowness is because she expected to have more than one hide?

Interestingly enough, as the searches progress, it seems that Blackie got a bit faster with each successive search, so learning was definitely going on. She hesitates at any number of points, giving me a look of, “Could it be here?” But when I don’t immediately respond, she moves on and seems to say, “No, you’re right, I didn’t think so.”

Should I do any proofing of my ability to read this even on known searches? For instance, should I every now and then, instead of paying super fast, back up and question her on it? Or is that what lesson 6 will do for us, and should I avoid giving her the idea that she might be wrong?

Perhaps the most fun example of this is the wall search, in which she knows it’s in the garden, above her head, but doesn’t move back to the wall itself until I step up into the garden with her.

I also had to laugh at the 5th search because once again, Blackie was hit with a serious distracter, in the form of a kid and his Dad riding their bikes in circles around our cul-de-sac, right next to the trash can on which the hide was placed. She does a beautiful job of ignoring this major distraction!

Finally, I was NOT very happy with my leash handling in these searches – the leash is frequently dragging on the ground and even gets completely tangled around Blackie’s leg during one of the searches, and while I think I do a good job of using the long leash that I have available, I don’t necessarily do a good job of controlling that leash. More skills to work on!

All in all, I think Blackie did a very good job: 6 hides in less than 4 minutes, including start and stop time frames? Excellent!