Sunday, 22 September 2013

Happy Birthday Strider

Happy Birthday Strider! (Well one day late anyway)  You are 11 years young. Love you little man :)

Monday, 16 September 2013

VTCH for Spryte

I'm excited to announce that Spryte has been awarded the Versatility Champion title through the Association of Working Shetland Sheepdogs.  For the champion title Spryte needed titles in at least 4 different sports and at least 23 points accumulated  (each title level is given a point value, higher titles have higher point values).  Good girl Spryte!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Advanced NoseWork Workshop

The president of the Sporting Detection Dog Association, Karin Apfel, was in town last week working at The Masters horse show.  I caught wind of her arrival on Facebook and immediately emailed enquiring about some Nosework lessons while she was in town.  Lucky for me Karin had time for a private lesson with Strider and I, and a mini group session with myself and the graduates from my last advanced Nosework class.

My session with Strider was last Thursday evening at Spruce Meadows.  I was very excited to work in a new and very busy environment and I got to do my first blind hides!  We did four searches. The first two searches were on golf carts lined up in a row (sort of a mini vehicle search), the third search was an SUV and golf carts and the last was an exterior search hidden under a rock in a ditch full of rocks.

Here is what I learnt with Strider:

First off, he is really clear when he has found the "hide".  He does some wonderful nose touches and then goes right into a sit.  It is obvious and I feel confident calling "alert".
Second, Strider can be slow to start.  He often starts by casually walking and half sniffing. He doesn't even look like he is searching.  Once he gets into it, he then works very well.  So Strider needs a very clear start line routine and a bit more time before sending him.  He is too often in "obedience" mode.
Third, I need to stay out of his way.  Karin said I sometimes interfered with his searching by being too close and handling too much.
Fourth he is ready to trial! Or at least that was Karin's opinion.  I was super thrilled to hear that we are on the right track and Strider will be ready for our April trial.

The group session was Sunday night and involved Spryte and four other dogs.  We worked multiple
advanced container searches and a vehicle search.

Here is what I learnt from that session:

First, I have been working both dogs on giving a sit as a formal alert.  In training Spryte seemed
stronger at it than Strider, but in the workshop she forgot the sit most of the time and was doing multiple nose touches instead.  There is nothing wrong with the nose touches, and that is what she learnt first.  But I was working on teaching the formal alert as a training challenge for myself.  It was clear from the sessions that Spryte  needs more work with the behaviour chain of : find the source, nose target, then sit.
 I think she was overly excited and reverted back to the behaviour she learnt first.  The sit will come, it just needs more work.
Second, Spryte really understands the job!  She is focused ahead on the job and instantly goes to work when cued to "search".  She loves nosework and wants to find the hide NOW.  If she doesn't find it instantly she starts to stress a bit.  She needs to work progressively harder searches so she gets used to working for longer periods of time.
A few other general training tips: Vary the material that hides are found in.  Leather, metal, cloth, cardboard etc.  Some dogs find strong odours like leather offensive and they are reluctant to get close and smell it (leather purses for example).
Vary the patterns for containers. Try shapes likes circles, squares, zig zags.
Always get the dogs to check the gas hatch on vehicles!

That is about if for now.  Below are a few videos of Spryte from the seminar. Unfortunately I don't have any of Strider as I was alone that day and didn't have anyone to video.