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Baxter & Abby – X's and O's

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    • #4448
      Deb (De) Frost
      Participant

        OK, I hope it’s all right to discuss both dogs for this first one. 🙂

        Many of you already know Baxter (Dachshund), my 4 yr old NW3 dog. I’d like to introduce Abby, my 9 yr old mix-breed. From what we know of her ancestry; she is Icelandic Sheepdog & Collie on one side, and 100% traveling salesman on the other side. She is also my medical alert service dog of 5 years. Abby has been doing NW for just over a year and is still shy of her NW1 title after 2 tries – entirely MY fault both times <sigh>. She is SO different from Baxter!

        One thing I’d love to talk about is the challenges of running two totally DIFFERENT dogs in this sport. ?

        Set-up #1: I set up a large “X” in my barn training area yesterday, using 9 regular ORT type boxes. The two hides were (1) the farthest out box on the right upper arm of the X and the other one 2nd from the end of the lower left … so actually the hides were both in the same “row”. There was also a breeze coming thru a window on the left, so odor was likely moving left to right in some manner. There were large, tarp covered tubs on the right side of the room where odor could’ve pooled.

        I was interested in seeing how Baxter would work the search – he often prefers to work containers counter-clockwise in general. But, an X is not a circle and if he “turned his nose on” right away, he should’ve hit the closer hide to his left 1st. I carry him to the start line (the center bottom of the X) – it’s part of our pre-search routine – and set him down, pausing to let him focus before telling him to “Find it”.

        Baxter broke to the right, but did a smart head-snap left as he hit odor and quickly pounced on hide #2 first. Reward! I asked him to find another and he moved to check the last box on that leg, but quickly turned and headed back along the row. He paused at the already found hide, but then kept moving straight along the row to the end, alerting on the other hide. Reward! ? Party!

        I put Baxter up in his crate and brought Abby in. She’s 50#, so we walked to the start area. ? At “Find it”, she moved straight into the middle of the room, sniffing the first box she came to (the center of the X). She may have caught odor there from the box to the left, so circled the center box (twice) but didn’t alert. She followed her nose to the next box to her left, sniffed deeply and looked up at me (her alert). Reward! I asked her to “find another” and she willingly moved on. She didn’t really work a pattern, just wandered from box to box (yes, I should have put her on leash). She returned twice to the first hide, so I removed it. I had to walk over to the far right of the search area to get her over there, in spite of the odor moving that direction … but when she finally found the 2nd hide, her whole body wiggled in excitement. ? Success! Party!

        Set-up #2: I put 10 boxes in a large circle, using up as much of my small open area as possible (it’s about 20′ x 20′). Two hides; one towards the right rear (actually the same box/placement as during the X search – I didn’t move that box, just the others), and the other pretty much a threshold hide – just to the left of the start line. I had closed the window to limit air movement as much as possible.

        I ran Abby first this time. She caught the odor of the threshold hide right off and alerted immediately. Yay! It seemed easier for Abby, having a clear circle to follow. She walked around the circle, sniffing each until she came to the 2nd hide. She walked past it, but only to the next box, then returned and alerted. Reward! Abby’s style is much more subtle thab Baxter’s, and her alert VERY subtle (so far). She’s very much a work in progress. ?

        I put her up and brought Baxter out. He eyed the circle and, as I set him down, I swear he looked right at the threshold hide on the left. But when I released him, he took off to the right (darn him!!). He stoped and sniffed the tarp-covered tubs (pooling odor?), but moved on and quickly pinned the hide towards the back. Then, rather than continue around the circle like a normal dog, Bax showed me I was right in thinking he’d noticed and catalogued that threshold hide by cutting straight back across the room to pounce on it. Sheesh! ? Reward!

      • #4457
        Kimberly Buchanan
        Keymaster

          How cool to know that Baxter catalogued the first hide and came back to it! Seems like Abby will give you a good education. 😉

          Interesting that you chose to do the search off leash. It makes sense, letting the dog choose which way to go, but I didn’t even think about that part of the instruction since containers are normally on-leash. Why not put Abby on leash when she kept going back to the first hide in the first search?

          Kimberly Buchanan
          Joyride K9 Dog Training

        • #4467
          Deb (De) Frost
          Participant

            I for sure should’ve had Abby (at least) on leash to begin with – and will next search. I didn’t for these searches partly because it’s a pretty small, contained area and partly because I wanted to stay out of the way and watch their behavior.

            I planned on repeating these or similar searches on leash to see how they differ but ended up not having time that day. Maybe tomorrow.

          • #4478
            Deb (De) Frost
            Participant

              A quick question for Kim – do you want/intend for us to keep most of our “search-related” posts about our own dogs to a single thread and just continue on with each new search we do below the posts we’ve already started? Or do you prefer a new thread/topic be opened when we’ve done a new search? Or do you care? 🙂

              If anyone else already knows the answer to this (I may have missed something in the initial “Lesson” email), please feel free to chime in! Thanks!

              I’m assuming that Topics started under general question categories remain open for anyone to add to or comment on, right?

            • #4483
              Kimberly Buchanan
              Keymaster

                That’s a really good question and I hadn’t thought about it! I guess I’ll let you decide what makes most sense. As we work our way thru this forum format we might adjust but I don’t think it matters. January lessons will all be within this “forum” so until we get a LOT more people it shouldn’t be too much trouble to find topics.

                If anyone has any other thoughts about this feel free to post or email me privately if you prefer. 🙂

                Kimberly Buchanan
                Joyride K9 Dog Training

              • #4493
                Kathryn Dobyns
                Participant

                  I have done some element trials where we could run containers off-leash, so I think it is good to practice on and off-leash.

                • #4498
                  Kimberly Buchanan
                  Keymaster

                    This is very true, Kathryn! Good point!

                    Kimberly Buchanan
                    Joyride K9 Dog Training

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