Kathryn Dobyns

We went to the park to run some exteriors this morning, and I added all 3 searches, even though the second and third were not quite part of the current lesson… About 75 degrees, 65% humidity, 9 am. Search 1 is paired hides, 2 & 3 are not paired but all are accesible hides.

Search 1 is my effort to recreate the “niches and corners” problem outdoors. I think the converging odor problem that I created for him was more of a challenge than the niches. There are 4 hides, and he sources the 3 hides on the building within 45 seconds. These were all paired, but he pushed the hot dog back into the crevice on the high hide in the middle, so I had to help a bit so he could get his reward. The ground hide in the bushes was the last hide he sourced, but he showed brief interest in that direction several times earlier in the search (16 sec, 29 sec) so hopefully I would in a blind search think to encourage him in that direction. I did try to point him in that direction after he found the high hide, but he chose to return to the doorway, which I repaid after he had worked so hard to self-reward on the elevated one! When he left the doorway the second time, he chose to head into the gap between the bushes and quickly sourced the hide – he appears to be just trotting along until he gets around the far plants and then catches the odor and goes to work again.

On search 2, I placed 1 hide elevated (but accesible for Hunter) on bleachers. This is a scenario that he sometimes has trouble with, and this 1 hide search took almost as long as the previous 4 hide search. He nearly sources it on his initial approach but cuts left and works around the left side of the bleachers, then he climbs the bleachers and again is nearly on top of the odor but cannot get his nose on it from that angle. He chooses to come back down off the bleachers, works the fence and then works around the bleachers clockwise and sources the odor as he comes at it from the right. He solved this one a lot faster than he has this kind of search in the past, and it has been several months since we last worked bleachers. I do worry about letting him climb the bleachers, though he was clearly chasing odor up there and Hunter is agile enough to get away with it, but for a lot of dogs that could be dangerous, so do you advise preventing that? The dog should not “need” to climb the bleachers to solve the problem.

Search 3 was a 2 hide search with one very straightforward hide on the tree and a second under the picnic table bench. I put that one in, because Hunter had recently been alerting a little early on this kind of hide – catching the odor on top of the bench and not working to get his nose on the source underneath the bench. I had to wait him out a bit, but he did put his head under.