(Please visit Dino's on-going blog at: http://dinostraining.blogspot.com/)

(Please visit Dino's on-going blog at: http://dinostraining.blogspot.com/)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

From a Discussion on PetHunters Yahoo Group, November 22, 2008

----- Original Message -----
From: Jackie Phillips
To: pethunters@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 11:43 PM
Subject: [pethunters] Training Question

OK, I have a training question. I will admit, that I haven't checked Kat's book to see if this is in there, but I am not at home right now, and I wanted to post this to group before I forgot or got distracted by other things. I promise I will check Kat's book when I get home later tonight.

I have taught Dino a specific alert when he finds a cat. I have taught him to run back and jump on me with his front feet. I say "Show Me" and he runs back and jumps on me with his front feet. I have found myself using this same indication when he runs out of scent (if he has made a wrong turn) to tell me he has discovered this. I say "show me" and he runs back and jumps on me. Should I have different indications he makes to me for different things? What might be the different indications I would run into (for example, running out of scent, finding a cat, finding something else)? What other indications do people use for their dogs to tell them different things? I didn't want to try relying on me reading his body language. I want to use very specific indications he makes to me with all the different things we will come across.

Thanks. Jackie

Victor Totis wrote:

Hey Jackie

The short rule when your are teaching dogs is that you can have as many cues (word, body language, equipment, etc) that represents a single behavior but only one behavior per cue. For example people often use "down" to mean lay on the ground, stop jumping on me, stop jumping on company, get off the couch, get off the counter etc. It is not fair to the dog nor is it a very efficient way to communicate with your dog, and it usually becomes a training nightmare resulting in dogs that choose to do "None of the above." So from a working the dog standpoint yes you can have many things become the triggers for the dog to come back and jump on you. Having said all that I would not do that with my dogs. 1) I want the trained indication to ONLY mean that the dog has found the strongest source of scent of the target odor and worked it to the source. That way, me the handler is not confused about what my dog is telling me. If my dog works to a gate or door or hole in the ground and lays down I can have some confidence that my dog believes that the source is there. 2) If my dog finds the wrong thing and shows interest in a clump of fur or the wrong cat or whatever w/o the trained indication I know it is probably not the animal we are looking for. (Not that I don't walk up and look good an hard and poke at it and just confirm that for myself every time.) 3) If the dog looses the track I try to shape a natural behavior stronger so I turn that cue which may be difficult to read into something less subtle. For example if the dog naturally slows down or lifts her head when she gets out of scent I might praise her and encourage her to stop and look at me. Until I get a dog that stops and turns and that look says "we need to go back and find the trail". Along those lines it may also be telling me that I need to step up to the plate think about what I am seeing and help to get her nose back into the right place. Just the way my dogs and I try to work together nothing is written in stone others on the list may have different ideas/opinions.

Laura Totis

Laura put it pretty well. I have Loki trained (theoretically) for a jump-alert when he finds "that specific" scent source--whether that be the live animal or a scent article. He does a return-sit (and nose-poke at the treat bag) for a negative trail indication. We're switching to a stay-sit for cadaver. Those were all his natural responses, and I'm encouraging them. When he loses scent, he hesitates and looks at me--so I'm encouraging him to come back. When he finds cadaver, he actually doesn't like it, so he kind of stops and "loiters". Anubis has different alerts--he has the "pull mommy on her face" alert when he finds a cat, and the "eat it" alert for cadaver. ;-) OK, he's *supposed* to have a sit for cats and a touch-touch alert for cadaver, and he does sometimes, when he's not too busy pulling me down and/or tasting (ewww).We train for perfection, so that when we're in reality, if we get 50% we're doing OK. Do I always, every single time, get those alerts? No. The other day, I was out looking for a cat, and we found five others, plus a dead mouse part and a spot on the street where a squirrel had been hit (a small amount of squirrel fur in the spot), but not the owner's cat. Anubis found one cat from across the street (we were knocking on a door to check a yard, and he pinpointed it across the street, up the driveway, and at the corner of the house...in the dark!). I read his body language on that one--his radar-dish ears swivelled around, he turned into a doggy-statue, and I knew he'd seen/smelled something. Another cat, we were walking by a car, and both dogs tried to make like rabbits and dive underneath. Sure enough, a cat was under there. So I didn't get the "trained" responses, but we still found all five other cats!On a more complicated case--let's take the case of the cat-daver I found along with two others a month or so ago, in the middle of the woods. For something like that, you do need a clear response for each indication. If she was an indoor cat, we'd have wanted to try and follow a trail to get a direction to start the area search. I'd want to be pretty clear when Loki was telling me that her scent stopped, vs that he smelled "live kitty" somewhere nearby, because that would be two very different responses from me. One would set a perimeter of search, the other would set a *target area* of search. Then, when we're searching, and we hit a "hotspot," I definitely want the dogs to be able to tell me, are we looking at a spot under a bush where a coyote has had a dinner, and there's blood I can't see (sit or touch-touch), or are we looking at a spot where that cat was sitting 10 minutes ago, and the scent source is still so strong that it may as well still be there (jump)?So, like Laura said, there's no "rules" on how to do it, but there are things that work better for simple reasons... :-)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 18, 2008

Day was clear and sunny, approximately 11 AM. Track is layed in a surburban location with a combination of sidewalks, no sidewalks, parks, busy streets with heavy foot and vehicle traffic on one side, open parking lots on the edges of parks, empty lots.

I had John walk Dot down a side street with no sidewalks. Regular foot traffic from the main street to a park. I walked on the opposite of the street, directing John where to walk. I had him walk to the end of the street, cross the street and make a right away from the park and along the edge of an empty parking lot. I then had him cross the paved parking lot to the other side. I had him make a left when he reached the edge of the lot and continue along the side of the parking lot. Along the side of the parking lot is open space, green grass and trees. He continued to the end of the lot and then crossed the lot again to a wooden bus stop. He walked past the bus stop and made a right in front of it and continue along side the edge of the parking lot, now a driveway leading out to the street. I had John walk toward a large wooden gate that led into an open space and then walk away from the gate and go back along the same paved street that led out to the main street.

Before we got to the main street, I had John take a left into a parking lot of a retail store. We walked down to the end of the lot and then made a right turn and another right turn back out to the main street. We headed back down the main street, back in the direction of the car.

The main street is heavy vehicle and foot traffic with retail stores on the right side and a sidewalk. I walked as far to the left as I could without walking in traffic. We walked all the way back to the car, crossed the street again and back to the car. John sat in the car while he read his paper and I put Dot back in and got Dino out.

I got out Dino's treat bag, his rawhide toy and put on his harness. Instead of going down the track that John and Dot started on, I took Dino to the park at the end of the street and make a left into the park and walked him around a bit to get him distracted from the track. We walked back out to the street to where the track was. I walked Dino back up the street a bit, crossed over and then we were on top of the track that John and Dot put down. I walked a few more steps and then I showed Dino the scent pad, said "take scent", he reached for it to sniff it, and said "search." He immediately put down his head and started looking.

Instead of following the track down the side of the street where I knew it was, he went off to the right side and headed toward the parking lot. I thought about restarting him, but I decided not to. I wanted to see what he was following. He walked through some short grassy weeds and back out to the parking lot. He followed the parking lot along the right side and eventually came to the the point where John has crossed over from left to right. He was on the right track. I was totally thrilled. I am glad I didn't restart him. He followed the edge of the lot all the way, crossed the lot to the wooden bus stop, check the inside of the bus stop and came back out to continue down the driveway. He found the track leading up to the wooden door/gate and then came back out to the street. He was "checking" spots here and there and I praised him. He followed the driveway out to the street, missing the side parking lot leading to the retail store. Now, I bet he was smelling the scent from the street after John and Dot walked back down the main street, but I wanted to show Dino that the scent was also someplace else. I took him back to the parking lot and said "check" as I pointed to the ground. He picked up the scent in the lot and followed it to the top of the lot, but he had his head raised and was visually checking around, not with his nose to the ground like other times. He followed the scent to the top and out the parking lot, but he made a left instead of a right. I didn't say anything and I let him keep going. He stopped on his own about 50 feet ahead. He head came up and he stopped and looked around. There is where I want to add a new cue for him that I want to teach him. I want to teach him a new indication that he has run out of scent, like a sit or a down. I haven't decided, but it is so common, that I definitely needs a clear signal.

I said "Let's go" and we headed back to the lot where he was correct. I said "check" and pointed to the ground. This time he went up onto the grass in front of the store and then came back toward the lot and the street. He made the right turn in the correct direction this time and was back on Main Street.

All the way down the street, back to the car, I had him "check" areas off to the side like stairs and driveways and any nooks and crannies along the way. I want him to notice the difference of where the trail is and is not. And that is OK to check these areas to be sure it is not there. He seemed to really like this and be very confident. He walked all the way back to the car, crossed the street, but he kept going along the sidewalk past the car. When he was about 20 feet past the car, I brought him back to the corner where the track changed. I said "check" and pointed at the ground. He picked up the track again on a path through some bushes and back to the car. He did something I had not seen him do before. He checked a couple of cars along the way and walked past them and then got to my car. I was really glad he did that. I think I will practice that more often, having him check cars. I have not done a lot of that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 14, 2008

Clear, sunny, cold, dry morning around 11:30 AM. Breeze was very light. Neighborhood is a combination of rural and surburban with a major highway/throughfare on one side and a large empty lot with a house in the back on another. Car was parked on one of the corners of the block.

I had John walk Dot down the short side street away from the car and toward Main Street. At the corner we made a right. I was walking in the street on the side streets with no sidewalks or as far to the left on the main streets with sidewalks and trees and cars in the street.

The Main Street is heavily traveled with cars, semis, RV's and a lot of foot traffic. Along the right is house and businesses with fences right up to the sidewalk. Every house had a fence. We walked up the street and then when we came to a business with a parking lot around the back, I had John walk Dot close to the fence that borders along the back of the lot. There was a large dog tied to a chain barking at us, so we cut from the fence back to the building along the other side. We walked back toward the sidewalk and Main Street. We continued up the street and when we came to the bank, we cut through the parking lot and I had John go diagonal through the lot while I stayed far off the the right. He crossed the lot and then crossed a small concrete barrier with plants and then made a right back out to the side walk and then made a right back in the direction of the car. There were no sidewalks on this street, so I had John walk close to the edge of the street. Then I had him cross the street in my direction, around a power pole and back out to the street, staying on this side while I crossed back over. A little further down, I had John cross back across the street and I went to the other side. John and Dot walked all the way down the street back to the car.

I put Dot into the car and John sat in the car to read his paper. I took Dino out and put on his harness, got his bag of treats and his rawhide bone.

Started Dino at 11:50 AM. I walked with Dino in the opposite direction to go around another block and hit the trail from another direction. We walked around the block and when we hit the location of the corner where John and Dot made the right hand turn onto Main Street from the side street, a few feet before, I told Dino "Ready, Ready, Ready" to get his attention that something was going to happen to get his attention. He was focused on me. I showed him the scent pad and said "Take Scent" and he reached out the sniff and then I said "Search." He immediately put down his head and started looking. He followed the trail up the street. I thought he might catch the scent of the the cat that lives on the corner, but he went right past it.

When we got to the parking lot with the fence that goes behind a business, he made the turn right away and followed it all the way around (no barking dog on a chain this time), and he got the left diagonal back to the side of the building and back to the street. He followed it up the street again. I remember him checking nooks and cranies along the way and I would say "good check." When we got to the bank, he made the right turn, but he went the direction of my track instead which was along the side of the bank, instead of John's which was along the building on the other side of the driveway. I thought about leaving him alone, maybe thinking he was following parts of John and Dot's scent. But then I called him and he came back in my direction. I said "check" as I pointed at the driveway where John and Dot walked. He followed the trail up the driveway and then along the back of the building instead of diagonal. This time I didn't restart him and he followed it back up along the parking lot in the correct direction.

At this point, he got a little confused, and when I saw what I did, I don't blame him. Instead of crossing the small concrete barriers that John walked over, Dino wanted to go straight to the sidewalk. At first I called him back not seeing my mistake. I brought him back to the middle of the parking lot where he was correct and had him going again through the parking lot to the street. He still went straight for the street instead of crossing the concrete barriers. I noticed what he was doing. He was picking up the scent from when John and Dot had made a right back onto the street which went in front of him, though about 50 feet ahead of him. This time I didn't restart him and let him go to the street and praised him. He made the right turn back down the street toward the car.

Instead of being on the left side of the street where John and Dot walked, he walked on the right side where I walked. I didn't correct him because the street was narrow, barely enough for two cars to pass with no parking on either side, so I figured he easily could have been picking up the scent that blew to the other side.

I did walk right past the power power (which had a U shaped driveway around it, and this time I called him back to a spot before the short U around the power pole and said "check" as I pointed at the ground, and he started again onto the driveway, checking various spots around the edge of the gravel driveway. He came back to the top of the driveway and back onto the street again and made the right turn back to the car.

He crossed the street on his own, which is the side that John and Dot were walking on. He was checking various nooks and crannies along the way with me praising him.

Instead of going straight to the car, he made the right turn back down the side street and back to Main Street. Of course, I didn't restart him since that was the way that John and Dot walked. I followed him down to Main Street and he made a left turn where there wasn't any scent. I let him go as far as he wanted to (about one house distance) before he stopped on his own. I said "Show Me" and he came back and jumped on me with his front paws. At this point, I think I need to distiguish between running out of scent or no scent and another indication. But I didn't do anything different with him, I was thinking this to myself.

I did repeat "Search" since we had not found Dot yet. I did see him glance in the direction of the right turn back out onto Main, but then he went in the direction of the car. He walked up the the car, sniffed the side and then jumped with his front feet onto the bumper of the car. I praised him and then gave him his back of treats and played with his rawhide.

The time was about 12:40 AM, about an hour since the start of when John and Dot walked by. I was pretty happy with this. He was very focused and got very little distracted by his environment which he has done in the past. I have stopped clicking and treating during the track and he remains very focused. I think that worked best during the inital training, but now verbal praise is good and the treats and toys at the end since he now seems to understand cleared what he is doing. I will put a post onto the PetHunters Yahoo group asking about the different indications people use for "cats", "end of scent" and "anything else".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 14, 2008

Time was about 11:30 AM. Weather was sunny, clear and dry. I had John walk Dot around a neighborhood block. I walked to the far right as I could, closest to the street, away from John and Dot who were closer to the houses and businesses on the inside of the block.

The first leg of the block was on the busy main street with a full sidewalk of about four feet wide. I had them walk almost down to the end of the block. There was a gas station on the corner, and I had him take the driveway just before the gas station which led down to another business behind the gas station and then which led out to the side street. If we had made a right turn just after the gas station, we this same street would be to my left. We walked past the other business on this side street and then down past several houses. The sidewalk did not continue. There was no sidewalk, just a thin, gravel path about two feet wide that led down in front of all the house. At the street at the end we made a right, staying on the same side. We walked all the way down to the end of the block, close to where my truck was parked with Dino. The sidewalk was still a dirt and gravel path with fenced yards on the right and a strip of grass about three feet wide on the left. To the left of the grass was the road, which is a medium traffic residential road.

I had John sit back into the car and I put Dot back into her crate in the truck. I took Dino out, put on his harness, got his treat bag and rawhide bone. I wanted to take Dino away from his focus on the car, so I walked in the opposite direction, crossed the street and walked back up the street. Across from the gas station, I crossed the street again and walked down the side road with no sidewalks. We walked just past the gas station to where the scent track started. I took out the scent pad, said "take scent" and Dino reached up to sniff the paper towel. I said "search" and he immediately put his head down and started looking. He started on the track right away. He followed it straight down to the end of the street and made the right turn. I noticed him doing "checks" along the way, and I would praise him verbally in a light voice so as not to distract him. Down this leg we had some light trouble because three dogs behind their fences raised a huge ruckus when we walked by. I told Dino "leave it" and kept moving along. I had to tell him a few more times because the yard and fencing was about the length of two houses. He did keep going and tried to focus. Once we got past the house, I praised him for "leaving" and told him "search" to refocus him on the track. A person who walked by while this was happening said "He did good there." I said "thank you" because I thought he did really good.

On a couple of gates all the way down this street he would stop and look up at me. He didn't go further inside, just stopped and looked at me. At one house, I saw a cat in the window, so I figured he was smelling cats in those yards. I didn't say anything but "search." He continued down the street, all the way down and crossed the street a bit early from where John and Dot crossed. He may have seen the truck, so I brought him back to the sidewalk and where the track was and said "check. " He continued down the sidewalk and crossed again just about four feet early. He ran to the car, put his front feet on the rear bumper and then ran back to me, jumping on me with this front feet. I gave him his bag of treats and played with this rawhide.

The distance was still pretty short and the age was only less than an hour. He was doing something still new which was having a second scent with the other person walking the dog and my scent nearby. That is all new to him. I want to test his abilities on VST and see where he is and where he needs improvement. I would say I can slowly increase the age of the track and slowly increase the distance. But I will do this slowly since he is still very distractable and I want this to be only positive and fun. Since this is my first tracking/trailing dog, I want to have a chance to evaluated each performance to try a lot of different things to see what works with him and what doesn't. This is very experimental, especially since I am doing this alone. I want to study more VST books to see what I can pick up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 13, 2008

It was around 10 AM. Weather was clear and sunny. I had John walk Dot around the Tops shopping center before we went to lunch. I told John not to walk near me so my scent would not mix much with his scent and Dot's. We walked down the middle of the parking lot with him walking through the base of the trees. Then we walked past a semi parked and then past another truck and then straight toward the end of the parking lot. He walked through some concrete planters and then toward the end of the lot. He walked behind a stack of bags on pallets of potting soil and then he followed all along the end edge of the parking lot which borders on the edge of an open space with grass. He walked all the way behind the entire center, which is an outdoor strip mall. Then we walked out to the sidewalk and made a right back in the direction of the car. The total time to walk the center was about 15 minutes. I put Dot back into the car and then went to breakfast.

About an hour later we came back to the same spot. I parked the car in the same spot because that is where the track it, plus it is a secluded spot so Dino can't see the car from the track, which has triggered an early run to the car in the past. I put on his harness, treat bag and rawhide bone.

He had a difficult time starting and find the track. Later I figured a few things. Either he was still too close to the car so it was confusing that he knew where Dot was. Or the parking lot where we started had so much traffic that it was too difficult for him since we had not had too much experience on VST. Too much time had elapsed for his level. Or he was very distracted by all the activity in the parking lot: all the people walking around, all the dogs barking and walking around. I think it may have been all of the above. I would like to come back to this spot and specifically work on this parking lot and subsequently walking in front of all the stores, which has more traffic. That would be a good track all by itself.

So I continued to tell Dino "Search" as we walked along the track and telling him "check" along the way and pointing at the ground where I knew the scent was. I did not rescent him on the scent pad. I knew he had the scent. He just couldn't find it or was too distracted. I kept walking along to where the semi had been parked. In this location, the traffic was dying down a bit, but still a bit heavy. He did seem to be looking and searching for something, but not dead on it yet. As we got closer to the edge of the lot and the open space, he seemed to be more focused. Once he got to the pallet of potting soil he seemed to be following something. He continued on the track all the way along the edge of the lot. He got the change behind all the stores from where I had John walk from the edge of the lot to a chain link fence along a loading zone. He followed the track along the outside of the delivery truck that was still parked in the same area. He followed the track straight out to the sidewalk and he made the right turn back toward the car. He followed it all the way to where the car was parked. He jumped on the car with his front feet and then ran back to me and jumped on me. I gave him his bag of treats and played with the rawhide.

By the time we got back to the car, it was over an hour and a half long. Based on his ability on the track once we got out of the parking lot, I do believe my assessment of the parking lot was correct. I didn't realize how different the two locations were until I saw his reaction to both. I do think the parking lot was more difficult for him due to the heavy flow of traffic and all the distractions which were completely non existent behind the center. I will come back to practice just on the parking lot with a lot less aging time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 7, 2008

With my new dog, Dot, I took her and Dino back to JC Park. Now that it was the end of daylight savings time, it was dark earlier. I was at the park around 4 PM. Weather was damp with rain for several days and rain while I had Dino out.

I took Dot out and walked her from the car to the horses and alongside their pasture. She was oblivious to them except for a couple of light barks. I have only had her for a day, so she may not have seen a lot of horses. We walked past the horses and made the right turn into the playground. We walked through the playground and to the far end closer to the main road. We made a right turn up through some trees, crossed the road and then through some more trees several hundred feet to the far south side of the public horse arena. We made a right turn up a short hill and went around the far side of the arena. This would put us past the front of the truck about 25 feet. We made a right turn light we were about to go back around the arena. Instead, I made a sharp left turn down a short hill and then back to the truck.

I waited about 15 minutes to bring Dino out which would make the track about 45 minutes old. I brought Dino out with his harness, treat bag and rawhide toy. We walked past the horse, and like before, he lost focus. We went back about three times to the part just before the horse where he was strong and then continued forward. He made it down to the end of horse corral pretty strong with good focus. At the turn toward the playground he continued forward looking all around at the horses in the corral right past the right turn. We went back along the corral where he was strong and went to the turn again. I said “check” pointing at the ground a couple of time when he finally continued forward, made the right turn into the playground. I didn’t click because I didn’t want to distract him. Instead I verbally praised him repeatedly. He continued strong through the playground straight ahead. He made the right turn back up to the road pretty strong with his nose to the ground.

When he got close to the road he started to veer off to the right away from the track. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. We went back several times and he kept going off to the right. I couldn’t figure it out. I walked along the track saying “search” and “check” on the ground. I was very confused. Finally, I looked off to the right and saw the truck off in the distance. I figured that Dino saw the truck also and decided “I know this game. I know the dog is in the car. Let’s go that way.” I thought briefly about letting him go to the car, but then I decided that would be wrong because he is supposed to follow the track even though he may know the end of the game.

I continued to work him along the track telling him verbally that he needed to follow the track. He did get back onto the track and continued it straight up through the trees with his nose to the ground. I continued to verbally praise him without clicking so I wouldn’t distract him. He went around the horse arena and made the sharp left turn in front of the car to where Dot was. He jumped on the car and came back to me and jumped on me. I clicked and gave him the bag of treats and played with the rawhide toys for several long minutes.

I don’t know if it was my fault for doing this in a familiar area where he can see the car, or if is OK so he knows that he is to follow the track no matter what. Once he was back on the track he was fine. He did seemed confused when he saw the truck because, I figured, that he was doing the right thing by going to the car.

November 1, 2008

End of day around 5 PM, still within daylight savings time.

I went to the Junction City park and walked Scout around past a horse barn where several horses were, through the children’s playground, up toward the car and then a right turn toward the road, then a right turn up toward the empty public horse arena, right turn around the horse arena and then around the horse arena back toward the same direction. I did take a path away from where I had previously walked through some trees. Once I came out of those trees I crossed the road again and down toward the baseball field. Instead of going through the field, I went around it which took me through some high brush I was unaware of. After leaving the field I make a left turn back up another road and back in the direction of the horse corral where the horses were. I realized that I would cross the previous track, and I didn’t think he was ready for that, especially so close to the horses.

I made a wide right u turn and went back down the road out to the highway. I went down another side road to get off the highway, which led me back to the main road and children’s playground. I figured in the direction I was going I would have to cross my previous track to get back to the car. I blew it. I had to do it in order to get back to the car. I decided to do it and see what happens, if Dino picks it up and what does he do.

I drove to the post office and then came back to the park. It was an hour from when the beginning of the track was started. I put Dino in his harness and grabbed his treat bag with his rawhide toy. I wanted to test him on the live horses again because I have seen how distracted he is on horse, and how difficult it is for him to focus on the track. He got the track from the car and to the edge of the horse corral. Once he saw the horses, and knew they were in there, he got lost and lost focus. I had to take him back to the top of the trail where he was strong on the track several times until he was able to get the right turn away from the horses into the children’s playground. I definitely have to repeat that location with the horses several more times until there is no hesitation.

Once he was back on the trail strong into the playground I clicked and treated. We continued on the trail through the playground and he got the right turn back up toward the parking lot. He continued strong on the straight line. Here is where one of the cross tracks occurred as I walking Scout back to the truck. He hit the cross and immediately made the right turn toward the car which was about 100 feet away. He jumped on the truck bumper and ran to me and jumped on me. I clicked and gave him the bag of treats and played with his rawhide.

I feel like I wasted the rest of the really good track, but he did the right thing, which was to follow the track, which led in both directions.

October 29, 2008

I took Mercury in his crate and walked with him around Jean and Al’s property. Since he is heavy in his crate, I put the crate on a dolly and wheeled him around on the gravel driveway in various directions until I found a secure, safe space around on the driveway where there are various old vehicles and “junk/stuff.” I liked this location because of all the stuff that could cause the scent to go in all different direction. There must be all kinds of different scents because of the old vehicles.

I waited about an hour to bring Dino out. It was just starting to get dark. It was warm out with a bit of breeze. I started Dino completely in an opposite direction of where I knew Mercury was. I even stopped for about 10 minutes with Dino in harness to talk to Jean after she got home from work. I started Dino out saying “Find Felix” and started near another house with a large fenced yard and known cats in the yard. Dino found three locations in the fencing where the cats come and go. At each point I clicked and treated and praised.

Dino also found a dead bird that he was very interested in. I have noticed since starting this training with Dino that he is very interested in dead “stuff” we find on the road and various spots. Instead of eating it like he used to, he now sniffs it and seems to figure out what it is. When I find what appears to be the remains of an animal like blood on the street, I call Dino over to show him to let him know that it is OK to check this stuff out and kind of “keep it in his memory banks.”

This continued around the house, behind the house and around another old building, each time checking various spots. He did seem very interested in various spots, but we didn’t find any cats. He continued behind the house with cats finding a couple entrances and exits, each time clicking and treating and praising.

Dino continued on his own away from that house and to the front of warehouse where Mercury was waiting. Dino followed the trailed of how I rolled Mercury in his crate and dolly around various objects and vehicles directly to where Mercury was waiting. I said “Find Felix” and his pawed at the crate and came back to me, jumping on me. I immediately clicked and let him have the bag of treats and then played with the rawhide.

I was pretty happy with what Dino did. I have him doing searches now at an hour and so far, so good he is able to get them. I am trying to vary doing tracking and area searches for cats do he gets ongoing experience with both. I liked that he remained interested in focused.

October 27, 2008

I put Mercury in his carrier and hid him underneath a vacant house a couple of houses away from mine. I waited almost an hour before I brought out Dino. I brought Dino in from a different direction from how I walked Mercury down to the spot.

From out on the highway, out in front of the house, I told Dino “Find Felix.” He immediately started to look around and check spots. I walked him around the house and up on the porch and telling him “check” in different spots. He was very interested in finding something. We were in the brush and open space in front of the house doing “checks.” We walked closer to the house, and Dino zeroed in on the direction of where Mercury was. He checked the side steps and came back down and then went down the short hill and underneath the house to exactly where Mercury was. I said “Find Felix” and he came back to me and jumped on me, which is his signal when he finds a cat. However, he forgot to paw the crate. So, I said “Find Felix” and he went back to the crate, pawed at it and came back to me and jumped on me. I clicked and gave him his bag of treats and played with his rawhide bone.

I was surprised how fast he found Mercury. I thought due to the time frame of an hour that it would take him longer, and also, since I had walked with Mercury from the opposite direction. The weather was overcast with a light breeze.