Susanne Howarth

Well, best laid plans and all – wanted to minimize the video length, but I’ve wound up outdoing even myself. Sorry!!! I’m trying to post fewer videos to make up for it. Anyhow… for last night’s work, I decided to do a sequence of 0, 1, and then 3 hides in the garage, off leash. (I skipped 2, because I figured that was one way to reduce the length of the merged video.)

Most of these hides were paired, although that didn’t necessarily work out!!! For the single hide, I wanted to do something high, to see if that affected how Biscuit reacted when asked to continue searching. Naturally, that hide couldn’t be paired. In hopes of making it an easier hide to find in the subsequent 3-hide search, I left that one in exactly the same location for the following search, which turned into searches… more on that later.

In terms of the behaviors that showed she was done searching, I actually think she was the most clear on the first search, in the clear room. She races into the garage, very ready for the game, and does a really good job checking everything out, circling the room. However, within about 15 seconds, she slows down and her tail isn’t wagging as much. At about :20, she shakes it all off, and continues looking, shifting to higher targets by about :30 (including looking at the exact location I chose for my high hide in search 2). Finally, at about :52, she moved to the other side of the garage (out of the official search area), and I called an end to the search.

In the next (one-hide) search, she does a nice job of working out the difficult problem of the hide that is over her head. She notices it first at about 1:22, and then goes out in search of an edge and brackets around it, giving me a soft alert at 1:35 (to the right of the actual hide), and then zeroing in on the precise location about 7 seconds later. After her reward, she continues to search, shaking it off at about 2:31 and then recovering the same ground. So I called this one…

In re-reviewing this one, her speed decreases consistently after she finds that lone hide… and I think the shake off is her attempt to say, “OK – I need to keep at this, even though it’s tough.” I suspect that learning to read those shakes may help me understand better.

The 3-hide search turned into searches, because I had a bit of a pairing glitch: when resetting before the third search, I forgot to pair the two accessible hides for Biscuit. So we did that search first without any pairing, and I didn’t keep her in the search area after she found the third hide. Then, I made a minor adjustment to the hides: swapping the sides of the garage for the purple chair and the two plastic buckets (where hides were located).

In the final search, although the chair hide was paired – and I had tested it with Blackie (who had no trouble sticking her head in to get the treat herself), Biscuit was more hesitant and alerted on the outside of the chair instead of underneath, where she could self-reward. So I paid her myself, and then when she went back to that hide, she self-rewarded. She was also being very odd about not wanting to take the treat from my fingers (an issue that we’ve had periodically over our years together).

I did see one new thing in the final sequence: at about 7:09, she sneezes, then shakes, and it’s not too long after that I called the end of the search. I didn’t notice the sneeze at the time, but I think that may also have been another sign: “How long are we going to keep at this? I found these same three hides once already. You should know by now that’s all there is! Can’t you smell that there’s no more?”