Sunday, May 12, 2013

Getting on with Nose Work level 2 Part 2

   What a great practice today!

   The first hide was four Anise. Wow, that many? I've never done that many, after two "I" got a bit frazzled, wondering what area have I traveled? Do I need to hit an area I missed? Where did I miss? Mickey is also use to doing two hides and quitting, so doing two more was a good practice. He needed help with the last two, but for these, since he was starting to "loose interests" I did pull out the toy. Then he found the last one and his toy again!

       Some factors to note in this search had....many plant clumps where you know dogs have peed, so I watched Mickey carefully. We were also by tennis courts and yes, one time Mickey did pick up a tennis ball I acted uninterested and got him into search mode again. He did go back to search mode. Found another ball, he was distracted, but we got on track again. I was pleased. The other two handlers have a trial in 4 weeks and have been practicing a lot more than myself. So this push to improve was good for me and Mickey.

       The second hide was the one I did and all three dogs had a bit of a challenge on the one on the pole with a lot of vegetation around it. I probably shouldn't have placed it around a lot of vegetation, but then again, these dogs are training for NW2, life is getting harder.

        The last hide was with containers. Cute little plastic baskets with grids. Mickey found his hides FAST! Nearly ripped apart a basket. When I asked him to show me the odor (source it) he kept attacking the basket. I think the odor must accumulate in the basket and Mickey felt it was still there, I food reward him by the tin. Whew, this was one exciting find and here I was trying to get Mickey revved up again with his toy since his interest in Nose Work did drop a little prior. But bringing out the toy today, using it lightly and not as a sole source of reward I think helped his focus. Even when there were bushes with pee, he didn't go, so I"m pleased that I think if I keep lightly using his toy, this keeps the focus and we don't have to worry about peeing. But a caveat to myself, I should "always" watch out for the pee behavior.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Getting on with Nose Work level 2

      It is all a learning process. As you move along little snags start appearing in your training. I can complain about it, or take it as a challenge to be a good teacher and handler.

      So what snags? Isn't Mickey finding his hides like gang busters? Not like he use to. His last workshop I could tell he just wasn't in it or driven to be in it. He was looking, then drifting, almost like he doesn't think this is a totally awesome game anymore. What? Mickey excitable Mickey not into the game anymore? I was confused in last workshop, why was he not that focused and kind of drifted over the scent and then dump loaded a bunch of pee? Huh?

      Today's practice was the first since the workshop and again not so into it and he peed right on the odor. Say what? Ok, what is going on?

      I think I did figure it out.......

      I took the fun out of nose work without realizing it. I took his toys away. We started using toys at first, but then he got a little too over excited that he wasn't focusing on the search, just that he wanted that toy. So I have been heavily using food. Which he will work for, but after time his intense interest began to fade.

       After a practice today when he was glossing over an odor (another problem I realized and will talk about later) I decided to see if I had a toy with me and bring it out at the end of our last hide. Oops, I didn't bring any toys, but had an old leash we could tug with. I tugged a little bit with him and a little bit of that sparkle came back! Oh yes! HE did the searches well and at the end we had some good tugging sessions. Yeah, Mickey felt satisfied. I think Nose Work is fun again! I have to use his toy carefully so he doesn't loose site of the odor. A balance of using food, but every so often throw in a toy. Work more with Premack, you must not only find the odor but indicate it well and you WILL get this toy.

        My other issue is, my Anise is too strong. When I practice or work with other Anise, it seems to be "fainter" for Mickey. So I will have to remake a new batch of Anise since my last one accidentally got too many drops from an accidental spill.

         So now, what to do about the pee? One thing for sure, if I bring the toy back into the picture, the urge to pee will go away. At today's search, I did pull him off from peeing. His crate was too far and just walking there would have been reinforcing for him. So I pulled him to the side, went to a flat grass area and had him sit and I stand. Did nothing. Doing nothing is torture for a Malinois. Some would say I punished my dog, so be it, he need to realize that search is over if you pee. That had to come across clear. You want to pee, fine, but the consequences is search stops and nothing interesting afterwards happens. When I felt enough time had passed, we went back to the search and he was more focused. I didn't use the leash tugging this day until the end. When I go back to the toy on some of my searches, we will see if this solves the pee issue.

        I love working with my training buddy. She has a great little dog and I think we had a great practice today. I'm learning more each time and actually improving as a handler. Problem solving, I love it. Having two very different dogs just makes me happy and also their issues, I learn and nothing more than learning to improve.

         I have another practice tomorrow with two other handlers. Let's see what I learn tomorrow!