Susanne Howarth

For our first lesson I elected to set up two search areas, both of which have three hides and similar challenges: different heights (high, medium, and low), corners (inside and outside), and converging odors. My original intent was to use only one of the two for this lesson. However, because Biscuit rocked both of these searches (barely 2 minutes total for the two searches), I have combined the two videos and am posting both:

In the first search (in front of our house), the low hide is in the dirt by the corner of the house on the left; the medium hide is under a little ledge just to the right of the stairs, and the high hide is in the corner to the left of the front door.

For the second search, the low hide is tucked under the gutter pipe on the corner to the right of the image, the high hide is in the corner between the two doors, and the medium hide is in one of the potted plants on the left.

I chose this combination of challenges for this first lesson for several reasons. We have been doing a LOT of accessible, paired hides lately, in hopes of speeding up Biscuit’s searching. Thus, one objective was to see whether this strategy has paid off, and I think this video shows that it has. I also wanted to see Biscuit work the problem of 3 moderately close/converging hides, at different levels. Again, she did a good job of working this out, only having a bit of difficulty with the high hide in the corner of the sliding doors. I’m going to guess that the very light breeze must have been carrying the odor onto the left hand door, since that is where she initially alerted. Finally, now that we’re at the NW3 level, I know we need to cover all corners of any search area. Hence, all hides were placed near corners that could easily be skipped.

In rewatching the video, one thing that is interesting in both searches is that she acknowledges the high hide relatively early in her searching (~:19 and ~1:10), but in both cases leaves it to last to figure it out. Instead, in both searches she first finds the medium high hide (which is at nose level), then the ground level hide, and finally she works out the high problem. No doubt, she is using information from the two lower hides to help her resolve the high one.

I’ll also mention that another search idea that I did not incorporate into this lesson would be to have her work through environmental sensitivities – different surfaces, strange areas, etc. She was VERY slow searching the large pole barn where the interior searches were located at our first NW3 trial, so more exposure to unusual locations like that is another aspect on which we need to work.