MW2016Jul: Carolyn, Cooper & Scout (White Shepherds, MT)

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    • #6844
      Carolyn Murray

      Good morning!

      Looking forward to all the videos this week! Where should I start? Good examples of searches, bad examples of searches, good examples of bad searches?? Hmmmm…. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Quick Bio:
      I started Scout very young competing in UKC nosework (first trial at 7 months old). We were very successful in eventually finding the odor for a while, but lack of foundation eventually caught up to us big time! She has a bunch of UKC titles from Novice to Superior. We blew our NW1 because she didn’t communicate with me, at least not the way I expected her to, when she found the hide.

      Cooper is my very sensitive/reactive dog that I started in nosework with an indication first. Big mistake. We never built the drive to hunt and I pretty much set the poor dog up for failure.

      This year I spent about the first 6 months working on foundation, pairing, and educating myself in nosework. The dogs are now running mostly unpaired – just depends on how hard I think the problem is and how the dog is performing that day. I’m having a lot of fun rebuilding my partnerships with my dogs and growing as a team again. It’s been a wonderful “rediscovery” of nosework! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • #6848

      Hi Carolyn – welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Post whatever you wish! You will get to choose 3 for the week and I’m happy to review whatever you pick! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Be sure to give us some bio info in your first post (go ahead and edit it so it’s at the top) Thanks!

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6869
      Carolyn Murray

      Okay – I’m going to start off with Scout’s exterior search from this past Saturday. First, a couple of points:

      * This was a two-hide search area with potential for converging odor.
      * The first hide was off to the right on the bench, which you briefly see when we start the search. This is why we started so far away from the columns.
      * I’m only focusing on what she did at the stone column due to the length of time spent there (she found the other hide immediately after this one after a skateboarder whizzed by us. She was very good!).
      * Hide aged for about 8 hours.
      * The day was hot – about 90 degrees with 8 to 10 mph winds throughout the day. Humidity was down to 20% but rising as we searched that evening.

      My comments on this search:
      She appeared to be tracking as we enter the area. However, once she hit that column I think she found odor. She checked the other column to make sure nothing was there, and came back to the first column. The hide is on the front of the column (facing the camera) and during the search, it felt like there was an imaginary line that she would not cross to check out the front! Lol! The metal plaque on the back of the column covered the entire side. I imagined that odor was trapped behind it like a license plate? Seems to me that there was odor all over that column, but Scout didn’t catch a “line” until she finally stood up.

      Overall I thought she did a nice job hunting. It was not my intention to have this hide be so difficult for her! However, I didn’t see signs of frustration that I used to see. My handling was rather poor and I let the leash get tangled around her for a bit. I like how she alerted on the biker then went right back to work.

      Any other general comments about this kind of environment, observations about what she’s doing, etc, would be helpful in understanding why this might have been such a challenge.


    • #6893

      Scout did a nice job of overcoming the environment and the distractions! ๐Ÿ™‚

      You mention it is hot, the hide was aged for 8 hours, a bit of wind and humidity was rising. Hm. We see the clouds developing overhead so the barometric pressure is changing which is going to create some air currents rising/lowering/spreading. It’s possible when Scout was working the hide the air currents were taking the odor UP so as she passed the hide with her head down she was not in a position to detect source right away. After 8 hours there is likely a lot of odor movement that has probably traveled far and wide. (Do you not worry about other NW dogs passing by when you’re not attending your hide?)

      The other thing to note is your position in relation to Scout. For some dogs this will have a subtle impact. For others it can be profound. You are a bit close to Scout on occasion and I would recommend giving her a wider radius of freedom. Also, rather than standing back, if you swing wide, it may give her “permission” to continue on a forward path instead of coming back towards you. I’ll give you some examples;

      (:33) Scout headed around the column but you stood still. She lost scent and came off the column completely.
      (:45) Leash tangle and fixing took her off the path towards the column edge/odor
      (:51) A bit of crowding
      (1:00) A bit of directing as she wanted to go clockwise – Scout gets distracted but goes back – you stay in position rather than making her more of a pivot point and swinging (yourself) slightly to the left
      (1:20) Scout ultimately finds the hide!

      It’s possible your position does NOT impact her desire or ability to locate odor, even in a distracting environment. But these are some handling details you might consider. There *are* times you will hold the line and limit where Scout goes but in this case I think giving her freedom to choose a direction is most helpful.

      In general, your leash tension is good aside from a minor tangle and your quick payment at source is great! Yeah! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Overall a nice search despite the unexpected challenges! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6899
      Carolyn Murray

      Hi Kim,

      Thank you!

      Regarding the 8 hour hide in a public area – no I honestly was not concerned about other NW dogs passing through…at least not on a holiday weekend when everything was a virtual ghost town. Leaving a hide set this long is not something I do and it was done as and experiment and out of convenience (I was on campus earlier that morning).

      Great points on my handling. I felt distracted during this search because I felt the need to keep an eye out for potential problems (mainly loose dogs). I think I was also a little impatient since she was working for so long.

      The main thing I’ve noticed with Scout is that if I plant my feet, even when she’s off leash, she will remain within a certain distance of me. If I move, she’ll move. I’m still trying to find balance with my handling. It seems like when I have an impact, it’s usually a pretty big one and not in our favor.

    • #6900

      Regarding planting your feet – you could be right with the way Scout works. But as she evolves so will your handling. One of the things you can do is to think of her as a focused point and you are orbiting her. Not in constant motion but you have a range around her like a bubble that can be supportive.

      Just something to think about! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6901
      Carolyn Murray

      So, what your saying is everything revolves around her? Lol! Scout’s been making this clear for years! Just ask poor Cooper! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Kidding aside, I will work more to orbit. That description makes sense to me…


    • #6909

      It may not make a difference but it COULD. I see handlers hanging back as their dogs progress forward and sometimes that works. However, it CAN influence the dog to not go too far so they might break off from the path they’re trying to take because the handler isn’t following. If you think of an “orbit” you are giving her SPACE to choose which direction without limiting or directing, just in a position to let her choose. Also, there may be times where you don’t want your dog to go in a direction so that’s where you would remain in a position. And again, it’s not about constantly moving or always being in perfect balance, it’s more of a mindset.

      Hope that makes sense! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6925
      Carolyn Murray

      Generally, I handle with a 12 foot line and remain 6 to 10 feet back from my dogs. I like to see the whole picture of what is going on, so she’s used to me being back a bit farther than I am in this video. I think she likes the “comfort” of having me in tow, and not planted…so as long as I move with her in the background, we are all good. Hopefully that makes sense?? This search, not so much. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • #6927
      Carolyn Murray

      Okay, I’d like to post a video of what I think is some pretty good progress between the two of us.

      What Scout did in this search kind of shocked me, especially since the two boys (Cooper and our training partner, Kenai) ran before she did and took FOREVER to find this paired hide.

      * Taken on June 11th, our first “real” search after I had been out of town for a week.
      * Hide cooked for close to an hour before we got to it.
      * All dogs ran the hide paired.
      * First search on campus this summer
      * Rainy weather, fair amount of moisture in the grass, cool conditions (in the upper 60s), around 6 or 7 pm (I think).
      * You might observe large cracks in the cement – I wanted to set a crack hide but closer inspection revealed these cracks were bottomless pits (no joke) and I did not want to lose a hide that I couldn’t recover. So I set the hide by a crack in the grass.

      Scout quickly moves into the area. She heads to the doors, at which point I apply the brakes a bit. She comes back towards me, swings around me, and heads straight out to the hide, passes it, stops and heads back to it.

      It seems like her intensity changes as soon as she swings around me and heads towards the grass? Would that be considered a subtle change in behavior? As opposed to the incredibly obvious head snap in the grass?

    • #6961

      Wow, that was so pretty! The head-snap in the grass was so nice!

      It does appear that Scout catches odor near the wall and then makes a change of direction. It could be that she actually used YOU as a break in the air current to determine exactly where odor was coming from. And yes, that is a body cue that she is working odor. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Another strategy would have been to follow her to the doors and let her choose when to turn back. There had to be odor collecting in that door niche and it might be something to work on, letting her decide whether odor is there or behind her. with the cracks so deep and with odor having cooked for around an hour there was likely quite a bit of odor moving thru the cracks.

      An interesting experiment might be to set up two similar searches, one with a hide in the niche area with wind blowing into it and a different search with a hide placed similar to this one. Make sure you follow Scout without the same leash limitations to see if she can figure out how to work each of the hides. It would give her good exposure and you a chance to find out what she looks like and if you can believe her to make these decisions. Super hard to do when you know where the hides are but do your best to pretend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6972
      Carolyn Murray

      So the reason I didn’t let her go all the way to the doors is because I was still in the mindset of “don’t let her blast through the search area” which, as you might recall, was one of our many problems. However, what I think she’s doing is often finding the boundaries of the search area. I’m start to now trust that she is actually working when she enters an area, and that she’s no longer just running around. So, yeah, I definitely don’t want to limit her ability to work odor and I can see where I may have done that in this video.

      As luck would have it, we have RAIN!! today and conditions are very similar. I’m heading out to practice and I will recreate this search as you’ve suggested.

    • #6980

      Scout has made remarkable progress and does look to be working from the beginning, even tho sometimes she’s tracking. ๐Ÿ™‚ I still think it may be time for a little more freedom to see what she does. If she loses focus then you’ll know it’s to too early to give her free reign. But it’s good to experiment every now and then to see where your training is and eventually you will manage less and less. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #6984
      Carolyn Murray

      I gave her free rein today and she was fine – did a great job with all the hides (unpaired) and was very fast.

      Yes, she tracks into search areas, but she’s not necessarily tracking me (unlike Cooper who has done some of his best footstep tracking during nosework practice). As long as I hang back and move when she moves, we’re all good. My biggest problem as a handler is being impatient, and I believe that’s when I start to crowd.

      The pairing truly had such an impact on her and how she plays the game. She’s got that fire in her belly again on the start line – she’s going to get that odor!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • #6991
      Carolyn Murray

      Okay – here is our last video!

      I was really debating on what to show next. I decided to go with this container search because, initially, I was very impressed with Scout. The more I look at it, the more I’m starting to wonder exactly what Scout was doing? Maybe it doesn’t matter?

      The set up:
      * A mix of 30 containers including plastic pencil boxes (brand new)
      * 2 hides, 1 mild distractor (toy in a box) aged for about an hour
      * Very sunny but mild day – not over 70 degrees. Sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts quite a bit higher
      * New-to-Scout barn, door was clearly open on the other end
      * Cement floor with “built in” distractions
      * Fresh bedding in all the stalls

      Scout was the dog in white for a fun match I held, so I ran her and tried really hard to pretend it was blind for me. I thought her speed was pretty impressive, but the more I look at this video the more I’m realizing that she’s not really checking much. She tends to be pretty thorough with containers, and with this run she just seems to go where there is odor?? Not that I’m objecting to that.

      I noticed as we travel along the back of the search area, she seems to be tracking, but I know she’s not tracking me. She skims over the hot box (pink pencil box) and seems to hit the stall, then go back and hit a cardboard box, then hits the pencil box. So, maybe she’s just air-scenting her way around?? She didn’t seem to have any interest in anything except for finding odor.

      And I have no idea why my voice sounds so strange in this video? But I was talking about how Scout was sucking up treats out of my hand like a vacuum cleaner…lol!

    • #7016

      I would agree with you, Scout is not really searching in part of the video. She’s sniffing the ground for whoever/whatever walked thru that area previously. I’m guessing a LOT of critters! LOL!

      The *good news* is that she responds beautifully to odor! Your payment on the first box was fast which was great. The second hide was pretty in how Scout worked out the problem. She may have been multi-tasking with the other scents in the area but once she caught odor, she used the surfaces in the area to find it. Nice!

      I know it was a DIW situation so you had limitations about what could be done but it would have been interesting to see how she’d have worked the rest of the area w/o any other odors. She looks a little perturbed with your celebration and the end of the search. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Good job, Scout!

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

    • #7017
      Carolyn Murray

      She’s sound sensitive and, until I saw this video, I didn’t realize how bad my voice was being amplified in that barn. Wonder how much that impacted her search…

      Anyway, thanks for everything, Kim!

      Looking forward to the next class!

    • #7021

      Thanks, Carolyn! Have seen great progress in Scout! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Kimberly Buchanan
      Joyride K9 Dog Training

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