Thursday, November 24, 2016

Return to Exteriors

Today I made myself get brave and tackle Exterior searches with Perri again.   Despite my motivation from the October mock Nosework trial, I have been taking things very slow with the point of procrastination with Exteriors and Vehicles.   We work on Interiors a lot and have been doing some practicing for Perri's Anise and Clover ORTs (which she is quite ready for, and I will schedule whenever I see one nearby.)  I have begun working on teaching Perri the concept of finding two hides in a room.   This is going to take some time and patience and I am in no hurry with it.  Perri is fragile and I don't want to demotivate her.

But today, Exteriors.   I said when I finally returned to Exteriors, I would do very easy stuff for a while.   We started with just that.   Vented plastic boxes with a tin of birch inside.  In the summer, even when I simplified things to this point, Perri was too stressed to search.   At one point she actually sniffed in a circle around all of the boxes and walked away.  I know now that she just was not feeling physically well enough to search - so it is very important to me to rebuild a foundation of confidence and positive associations for exterior work.   Perri already struggles with this due to her tendency to become obsessed with the environment (she is much improved!)

This video clip contains Perri's first search on the boxes.   Her body language is slightly tense on approach but then she relax and even does some slow tail wagging and confidently alerts.   We did a second search with the boxes moved onto the grass, and she did well.   I then gave her a break for a few minutes and moved the boxes back and removed the tin and put the tin out alone for her to find.   This is the second clip shown in the video.   And I loved that search.   She comes into the search area with a glance across the gravel drive (not shown) at my neighbor's property - but she refocuses quickly on searching and does a really great job of finding odor.  Refocusing is no small task for Perri but she is improving and I appreciate it.  I did not do any proofing of her obedience to odor, that will come later.   For now I want her to find odor, get lots of food.   Be happy.   Be confident.

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