Susanne Howarth

    Darn! I went ahead and did some searches earlier today — one of the wall around the house, and another on the three cars in the driveway. Since I hadn’t seen this reply before doing those searches, I went ahead and threw in a couple inaccessibles – one per round, still 10 hides total per round. For those hides, I “paired” — i.e., had the meatball next to the hide, and made sure to give it to Biscuit very quickly when she indicated the hide.

    I only have video for the vehicle search — figured you wouldn’t want me to post quite that many videos for this course! But the search around the house worked reasonably well. Several hides were on a cinder block wall at the back of the house — it’s part of the wall of the house, about 3 blocks high, so Biscuit had to go up on hind legs to search it, and did a very nice job of going up and then walking along the wall to get to where the pairing was happening. I’ve not seen her demonstrate that particular behavior before, so it was a good new learning for her, and I was very pleased! I will probably repeat the searches along that portion of the wall while we’re up here at the cottage, to reinforce the idea of walking the wall (or counter, or whatever…) when she knows a hide is high and you’re having trouble finding it.

    I was also intrigued by watching her work the most difficult, inaccessible wall hide. Our cottage is down a hill from the driveway, and there was a reasonably strong breeze when we did this work. However, the cinder block wall was totally in the lee of the wind, and the inaccessible hide was in the middle of the wall. Nonetheless, after finding all other hides, she started moving up the hill and then looking back down, as she tried to work out where the inaccessible hide was.

    That hide proved to be very challenging (about 4′ up), so to help her, I eventually removed the two hides on either side of it (which she had already found), and when she got somewhat close to it, with nose in air towards it, I rewarded (even though she hadn’t committed), giving her both the special meatball treats and a couple of other dried salmon treats to reinforce how hard she worked.

    Now… for the video of the vehicle search… I’ll apologize in advance for the fact that it’s LONG — 6 minutes — but I think Biscuit did a really good job of working very consistently throughout that time, and therefore have not edited it down.

    I intentionally set this one up with mostly accessible challenges as well as the one inaccessible hide. In terms of challenges, learning from one of our prior on-line lessons, I placed hides in the passenger side rear wheel well of the white SUV and the driver’s side front wheel well of the blue Honda. Also, knowing that the wind was blowing up the hill and from front to back of vehicles, I tried to place hides where they might blow under the cars and create a bit of confusion…

    The inaccessible hide is on the driver’s side rear quarter panel — it’s the last one she and I find.

    I liked several things about this search: (1) She again demonstrates the behavior of going up on her hind legs and walking a little bit to get closer to source. (Not as much this time, but it’s still there.) (2) There are a couple of points where she gets distracted by the woods, but a quick “good girl” or “find another” brings her back to work mode. (3) We’ve now done 4 searches in an area that is ripe for wanting to pee or critter, and Biscuit has been all work: minimal critter distraction, no peeing, and a LOT of stamina to keep on searching for 10 hides at a time.

    Amusingly, after we were done working and I had removed all of the hides, I looked uphill to call Biscuit (who was off leash) to come to me. Not sure what she was thinking, but she was commando-crawling under one of the cars… What??? I’ve since explained to her that NASCSW rules would give us a fault for such behavior during a search — I hope she paid attention!!!