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

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

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009

I have not been able to post for several days.

I met with Donna and Ben on Monday in Pinole for a training session and to have his dog, Bodie, tested. He is a really nice dog. A nice herding mix. I brought Mercury and all three dogs, Dino, Annubis and Bodie did a training with him in the park.

We set a track with Annubis at the beginning and then, at the end, we ran Dino through it. We have been working on corners and I have been teaching him about positive and negative indications. I have taught him to come and sit in front of me for a negative and to stand and bark facing the direction of the scent.

Donna said that I need to anchor Dino at the corner and have Dino check the direction of the wind and then show me what direction by facing in that direction, giving me his indication and then heading in that direction.

At the end, I ran Dot through a track with Dino's scent and cat food. I walked Dino through three tracks and then put him back into the truck. Then went back to put down the cat food on that scent. I then brought Dot out to run the tracks. She was pretty into it. I am doing her on a straight as the first track, and then doing curves in the last two.

Yesterday morning I ran Dino through a 38 hour old track that I had put down with Dot in a neighborhood in SL. It was straightaways and corners. I anchored him at each corner and had him tell me what direction, had him stand and bark. He even gave me negative indications on some spots that he found didn't have scent.

On one corner, he was sure the scent was in a specific area. I let him go because, actually the scent was across the street so he could have been picking up some scent. He went about two houses and then backtracked and started looking again. He picked it up across the street and went in the right direction. I guess I do need to let him work those things through. I can let him go down the direction he feels firmly about and then let him figure it out. Who knows? He could be smelling the scent, and then it diminishes and disappears and then he figures it out. This will get better with more experience.

Last night I laid another track with Scout in another neighborhood in SL. Some straightaways and lots of corners. I will get it to another 38 hours and work Dino on that for a few tracks. We should have another training on this Monday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feburary 20, 2009

Wow! I have not been able to post anything for several days because I have been working Dino on tracks everyday and I wanted to spend the time to do those tracks instead of writing in his blog. I knew I would be able to catch up.

He has been doing great. We have been working all VST urban tracking in neighborhood in this area. We have been working on corners and we have been learning the negative and positive responses. He has had the negative response, but we have added the positive response.

It has been raining like crazy for several days, so we have been getting some great experience tracking in pouring rain. I don't think we have done that at all, this is has been good (except for getting soaked!)

We started doing tracks six to eight hours old and focusing on corners and practicing when scent is there and when it is not. For a positive response I have been teaching Dino to "stand" and then "bark." I wanted to do something that is totally different than his negative response, which is coming in front of me and sitting.

Last night we did a track that was about 26 hours old, which is his longest. He did great on the scent following, however, we had some issues how doing the negative and positive signals. This is one of the things I am going to change, which I figured out by this morning. I think he has become so focus on getting the treat, that he is forgetting about what he is supposed to be doing. I have seen this before when I trained Scout. She started to do that, so I know it is not unusual. What I have decided to do is to fade out the food reward for the negative response and just acknowledge and verbally praise. I will continue the food reward for the positive response since he is still learning that. I am still teaching him that and rewarding him to teach him the response of the stand and a bark.

I kind of figured this out when I got kind of frustrated with his non-response to a negative. He was just standing there doing nothing even though I repeated that corner several times. I started to walk back to the car and I felt like "No, this is what he wants. To get out of this and not have to do this." So I took him further back on the track before the corner and this time he got the turn across the street all on his own. I thought, "He does know where it is, but for some reason didn't take it." I thought maybe he was intentionally doing a negative to get the treat, though other times he does a turn. I do feel like sometimes he does a negative just to get a treat. So, that is why I am not treating him anymore for a negative. I feel he understands that part since he has been doing it successfully for several months. I will focus on reinforcing the positive response.

I will continue to work on corners over and over until he gets that down. A solid positive and negative will be the key to a search, at least from what I have seen so far when working with Donna.

I also am gradually increasing the age of the track. I am not increasing the distance because I think that is fine at this point. We need to increase the age of the track faster. I have found that is where the challenge is for the dog. It seems to change a lot as the track ages. The distance is not such a challenge because there will be times for breaks and not a lot of tracks will be really, really long. I would rather work on the age of the track and the difficulties those cause along with the variety of the environment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

I met Donna yesterday at 9 AM in Pinole to working on some practice trails with Dino and Annubis. The previous day, after the lost cat case in Davis, we met in Pinole at this same spot and laid a track for Dino for Monday morning. Donna wanted to see where he was at since she had not seen him track for several months. This would have been the oldest track, but it was a much shorter track. We laid the track at 2 PM and came back at 9 AM. That is 19 hours.

Per Donna, Dino was following the track and he knew where it was but that he was deviating from it to check out other things. I think that stems from me working him on a loose long line for a while to make sure that I was not influencing him. We tightened up the line, and if Dino went off track, I would give him a mild tug on the line and tell him "get to work." He did go back to the track.

He followed the track all the way around and found the cloth. We both made a big deal of that.

Next we met at a spot a few blocks away for Annubis to follow a track that a friend of Donna's laid a few days ago. Prior to meeting me at the spot, Donna laid a blind track for me and Dino to do later after Annubis' track.

Annubis did a great job on his track. He followed it all the way around, even though a the bedding area of a herd of goats.

We went back to the start of the blind track. We were practicing on corners to see what Dino knew about how to handle an intersection.

After the track, we figured on a few things that I need to work with Dino on:

1. A positive indication of scent. He has a negative scent indication.

2. A cue to tell Dino that it is OK to go into the street. I had worked a lot with Dino for stopping at curbs while going for walks. I find him hesitant about going into the street to follow the track.

3. Not allowing him to go off the track to sniff other things while on a trail. Part of this will be helped by me holding the long line tighter. Not tight enough to direct him, but enough to keep him working if he starts to stray.

4. Practice working on corners and working on a positive and negative indication. Practicing on how to handle an intersection and work all the corners to determine where there is scent and where there isn't scent.

5. Work more on older tracks in regards to hours and shorter more simple tracks than what we have been doing.

6. Set up scent articles at the end or along the way for him to find an indicate. Put the cloth article with treats inside. This should also help to refocus his attention to the track and finding things along the way.

7. Make an indication to doing a scent-specific track and an area search. Maybe using a different word or Donna suggested using a bell on either Dino or myself.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Well, since the last post I moved out of Junction City and back to the Bay Area. I did spend a couple of days in Redding after getting over the mountains with my trailer trying to figure out my next move. I figured to go back to the Bay Area, and I found a mobile home/RV park in San Leandro where I have been parked for almost a couple of weeks.

I did a good 4.5 hour track with Dino on Saturday night, and I still need to post that. However, I wanted to post about what happened today in Davis.

Donna had a call for a lost cat in Davis in an area with a bunch of apartment complexes all around. I got there about an hour late due to a misunderstanding on my part on the time. Donna already had Annubis follow a trail around the area and through some of the neighborhoods. I got there and they were on their way back. Donna had me bring out Dino, put on his harness and see what he could come up with along with Annubis as we did a perimeter search of the apartment buildings. Dino went right to the "bag of scent toys" and started looking around. He found the owner's apartment door with the traps and toys. He was very excited. We then started walking around the complex with Annubis and Donna in the lead. We walked around the pool and around the buildings. I was behind Annubis and Donna as we checked the different bushes and hedges when Donna said "Get back. The cat is right there." She ran back towards me to get the dogs out of the way. The cat ran out of the bushes/shed and the owner went to pick her up. She carried her back with tears running down her face. It was incredible. Donna had me bring Dino to the area to have him indicate the area where the cat was. Dino went right for it and then came back and jumped on me, which is what he should do for a cat.

I think I am going to change the "down" indication for the dog I have been using to have him use the same indication for both dogs and cats when he finds the source. He does it naturally and with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't think he really cares if it is a dog or cat or whatever. What is important is that he found the source.