Friday, February 19, 2010

Quinn trains Little Wood

One exercise Quinn needs to learn for MR2 is something called "Little Wood."  Short pieces of wood dowel are used in the search and the dog must locate and retrieve the one with the handler's scent on it.  This is similar to the Utility obedience exercise.  At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to even work on the exercise until he had his MR1 since I also have the goal of earning our FH this summer.  In schutzhund tracking the dog must lay down to indicate articles with human scent on the track.  Quinn also does an area search for any article with human scent on it and will down at that article, as well. The purpose of this is so that he does not disturb articles of evidence by putting them in his mouth.  An example of this is a search for an expelled shell casing that we did several years ago at the scene of a hunting fatality.

I was worred that asking him to retrieve an article with scent might be confusing.  And would it be confusing for his retrieve?  The first thing I had to do was break down the exercises and requirements and determine where conflicts might be.

           Exercise                Command               Behavior
1)Area Search for articles                           veloren (lost)                 search for articles on ground with human   
                                                                                                    not specific to one scent.  air scenting.

2) Indication of article on track                    tracking= such              to down straight in direction of track with       article containing tracklayer's scent located between his front feet, without molesting the article Dog is following ground disturbance to locate the article.

3)  Area search for human                         search                              air scenting. bark and hold on still subject.
                                                               revier if sent to one location

4)  retrieve                                              bring                                   go out, pick and return with any thrown

So I had to first consider what the command would be.  I decided to keep it consistent to his training language and use Finden.  I have seen small pieces of how people train the exercise using a board on which the dowels are secured with flex ties except for the one with the handler's scent, so that no incorrect choices can be made.  Sometimes they will cover the board with grass or other material, and carry it into other environments but ultimately the board has to be phased out.

The funny part here, telling of how I am thinking of how I want to teach the exercise, is that my friend, Sam, is constantly coming up with new ideas for training and often I laugh at them as adding too many layers.  I am very much about keeping things simple and without unnecessary tools or tricks.  There is possibly someone reading this who thinks I am being crazy, and also possibly recognizes that I am setting myself up for a problem.  But since I have already decided I didn't want to do it the traditional way since he already knows how to search,  I will just see how it goes.

I used the rounded wooden dowel, similar to what they use in the MR exercise.  I held his mouth shut the same was how we do to pre-scent the dogs to find a particular scent, and held my palm in front of his nose with the dowel there. I said "good finden".  Then I left him on a sit and first put the dowel in a corner of the building, but in the open.  At the start of my introduction exercises, he is seeing the article being hidden, which is not true in MR.  He ran right to the dowel and I encouraged him to bring it back to me and to hold it until I marked and released. He did it super well! 

Next, I hid it behind some tubs against the wall.  Again he saw the set up, went directly to it and retrieved it. Good boy!  Time to up the ante.  I hid it in an area with chairs, tables,bookshelves,  and dog crates and he searched and quickly found it.  His change of behavior in scent is very obvious.  I watched a dog recently who struggled to work in to the source of the odor and I know from training police and detection dogs, how critical that is.  Quinn is quite good at it.

I then hid the dowel in the kitchen, where there are many interesting odors.  The dowel was hidden between an island and the garbage can and I watched him work up in the air in the area.  He was moving so quickly, by the time his brain recognized the odor he had passed out of the scent cone.  I did not speak and he did not quit. He kept working, and that perserverance in the hunt is something I love to see.  I hate a dog that quits and asks the handler to do his job.  Or even worse, the handler who is actually doing the job but not realizing it by cueing the dog with "show me, show me!" ugh! pet peeve!

This is where it got interesting.  My training partner asked why I didn't just tell him "such" to put his nose down.  Just like a good trainer should, I knew the answer to that one.  I couldn't tell him to such (pronounced zook) because that is his tracking command and tells him to put his nose down and find the track.  And if he would find the article, thinking "track" the proper behavior would be to lay down to indicate.  I told her that if he layed down I would have to correct him, and that would only serve to confuse him in TWO disciplines!  Even more importantly, I wanted Quinn to learn on his own how to work to the source of that odor.  And he did!

The last search we did was back in the crate/table/chair area.  This time additional articles were place in the area, placed by my training partner.  Being the good sport she is, she emptied her pockets for the sake of training, even though she said she hoped Quinn didn't munch her cell phone! I think we had keys, a cell phone, a knife and something else.  The keys were placed where the dowel had been previously and the dowel was placed in between a dog crate and a bookself on the exterior wall.  Remember in training placements, where your scent cone is going to be affected by other items around it or hot/cold walls or fans.  This time Quinn picked up the keys, but after several "uh-uh's" and repeating "finden" again, he went back to the search and located the dowel.  It was interesting that he did not bother at all with the other articles and retrieved the keys because they were in the same place the dowel had been previously.  In this, he is trying to define the perameters of the search.  Is it this thing, or is it the location of the thing?

So, my Quinnster did very well!  We did some whistle-backs to his place between my legs and he is really picking this up well, too  Next week I am registered to attend a 3 day seminar with Michael Ellis, and it is my goal not to be too far behind in our prep from those dogs who regularly and solely train in ringsports. Rock On, Quinnster!