Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nosework practice

I haven't been doing much lately in the way of Nosework practice. Maybe an interior hide here or there. My biggest concern is how she hates weird surfaces. Especially raised weird surfaces. We are working on it and he is making progress, but as of today if her NW1 hides are on a deck or stage we are screwed.

Well we took a break from all that today and had a big group get together for some actual Nosework. We me a bunch of folks from Atlanta at the ORT and Melanie did a get together with them two weekends ago but I was at a conference and missed out. This weekend we practiced in Carrollton and had a great time!

11 dogs, 6 or 7 handlers, some on birch some on anise, at very different stages. It is was a huge learning experience. We did interior, exterior, containers. And the pouring rain made for a great challenge.

Reyna did really stellar. I don't often get to do blind hides, especially true blind hides where I can't see the container when she is alerting. I was a bit nervous that hr alert would not be strong enough for me to call it on a true blind hide, but she nailed it!

I won't go through each hide since we did about 6-7 searches totally about 12 hides, but some of the highlights were...

A chair search that I thought would be easy all of the dogs struggled with. It was a bunch of plastic chairs with metal legs and I stuck the birch underneath one. Something about the air current in room made all the dogs want to come at it from the front of the chairs where it was inaccessible. And then even when thy came around to the back side of the row they all wanted to alert on the top front left corner instead of the bottom right rear....wired. But all the dogs worked through it. It was a lot tougher than planned. It just goes to show how something we perceive as easy may have unseen factors that make it quite challenging.

I was thrilled with Reyna's container search. I have to admit was nervous since we hadn't been working on it, and boxes were a weak link before the ORT. But our Pre-ORT pattern work seams to have stuck. Even though e had just done a bunch of interior searches, she locked onto the boxes right away and did a clear paw touch/nose touch on the hot box the first time through GOOD DOG!!

It was raining during our exterior, which made for chilly handlers, but a great learning experience. Reyna found one buried under leaves in good time, but a second one in the area was very tough. Harder than anything we'll see on trial day. She worked hard, but it was our next to last search, she was tiring and the hide was difficult. A single q-tip in a closed plastic container stuck in a crack in a wall in an alcove. Tough stuff. The current must have been moving the air up because several dogs wanted to try sourcing it from the top of the retaining wall directly above the hide. I hadeto ask where it was and restrict Reyna's search area to a 10' radius around the hide to help her source it, but she did it and I am SO proud!

We did two extremely blind hides in the bathrooms because the people that knew where the hides were had dogs searching other areas. I thought I'd give it a go anyway and just trust Reyna. I rewarded as soon as she alerted with nobody to verify it and she was right both times. I wouldn't recommend that exercise to anybody, but it really showed me I could trust my dog and it was a Great way to end the day!

It was a whirlwind experience getting that many dogs to that many hides in 2 hours, but we did it, and I think it may have replicated a trial environment to some extent...dogs everywhere, different stations, delays between searches, and then scrambling to get your dog watered and pottied for his next run. It was a total blast!!!

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