Saturday, April 28, 2018

April Performance Scent Dogs Trial

Last Saturday I took the girls to another PSD trial. The trial location was kind of exciting, as it was not at a formal training center but at a new to us 4-H property, so. Lots of unexpected new areas to search. Exteriors was also being offered. None of the trials we have gone to this year has offered Exteriors. I have devoted a lot of Perri's training time to building start line confidence with Exterior (and Vehicle) searches so I was looking forwards to seeing how she would handle an Exterior search with the pressure of a trial. 

Molly actually had her Exterior search first (most PSD trials offer "split" Novice level classes, so that handlers may run two dogs in one day.) Molly has had no need of start line confidence, she is brimming with it although her issue we are working on overarousal and staying focused on the search. This search actually shows the issue creeping in a little bit but a really nice return to searching. Proud of her.

Perri was next with another qualifying search and some very good work for all of the challenges we deal with. No shutting down. Perri was a little nervous about the metal rake handle, it isn't too apparent in the video but she does slightly cringe away from it at :24. She does leave source for a little bit and offers some displacement posing on the tire for me, but returns. I am very proud of Perri since we have worked extensively on some of her strange object aversions and fears and it's a big deal to me that there was not huge avoidance and fear display. I know she was not comfortable with the broom but I don't think anybody who wasn't familiar with Perri intimately would be aware of that. She would have been the same way if the hide was on the metal shovel behind her. Anyway, good stuff! 

Backing up a little bit, Perri had actually done the game "Speed" before either of the girls' Exterior searches. She did not pass, as she ran over time. The boxes were in a barn setting, that was interesting. Lots of smells! Perri also did her habit of "cataloging" the hides on her first pass over the boxes (knowing where the hides are but not alerting until she has fully checked all of the boxes.) Between those two factors, Perri ran over time - and it did not help that I called a false alert when I heard "time" called. I knew better! This game is challenging for Perri, she is not a fast working dog and while she does have two passes in Novice Speed, both of them were above 40 seconds so...we always cut it close! (In Speed you only have 45 seconds.)

Perri's last search of the day was a Container search and she was extremely distracted and not very confident. This was good for me mentally, and I am really proud of how I did not crumble when Perri was having A Moment. I feel that I supported her, watched her body language, reset her when necessary and called alert quickly on her body language alone when she visited source a second time. I also reminded myself internally "You have two minutes." That is a big deal. We had 40 seconds to spare, an eternity! It is a skill for me to not panic under the pressure of the clock ticking away.

Molly needed one more Buildings pass for her title so I was hoping today would be it. The search area was extremely cluttered and small and I will not work Molly off leash. The hide was under the trash can and Molly certainly pays it plenty of attention before alerting quite confidently on the handle. I am told other dogs did this as well. I feel weird about this search and I don't understand why it happened. I see a refrigerator/freezer in the back of the search areas and I know that those can really pull odor around so, who knows. Next time!

It was overall a nice day with lots of searches for the girls and some homework take away for me! Perri earned her Novice Containers title and is looking very smug about it thankyouverymuch.

1 comment:

  1. I've wanted to do scent work with Keltic. I missed getting him in classes this winter and an upcoming seminar this summer is on the same weekend as agility nationals. I guess it will have to wait a while longer. From your blog post seems like there will be so much more for me to learn than there will be for him.