Sunday, August 29, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 1

Chandler and I are in some sort of K9 Nosework limbo right now. The rest of our class did not move on, so we essentially got tossed into the group that was doing a beginner's class. It is an intermediate class for them, but the trainers are making it a bit more challenging for Chandler. (Or perhaps I should say they are having great fun being diabolical about where they hide the scent.) The two other dogs in class are a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Maltipoo. Unfortunately, neither of them seems to be very dog social; the Pointer seems uninterested and the Maltipoo greeted Chan with a curled lip and airsnap while his nose was still at least a foot away. Of course, that could have been a resource guarding issue, as Chan was busy snuggling up to the Maltipoo's owner at the time.However, from the amount of whining that Chandler did, I think I can safely say that he misses his Whippets.

Run #1

I will admit to wondering what happened to my Nosework dog during this run. The scent is in the third box, but Chan seemed to have some problems finding it, although he gave that box a few extra sniffs. He just seemed to lose focus. I've thought of two possible explanations. First, it is possible that he was still overly excited and distracted by having two new dogs in class. The other possibility is that the q-tips were hidden in a new container. Most of our finds have been in metal containers, either Altoids boxes that have been altered for Nosework, or purpose made Nosework containers. This time the scent was contained within a plastic hummus tub that had holes punched in its top. It is possible that the different plastic scent of the container threw Chandler off.

Run #2

Woohoo! My Nosework dog has returned!
...and he still loves to pound on those boxes.

Run #3

By the third run, Chandler seemed to have settled back into his job. He was systematically checking boxes as he swept through the room.

Run #4

This was an interesting adaptation of Chandler's alerting technique (translation: box pounding) to an elevated hide. I really am beginning to suspect he enjoys making as much noise as he can with the boxes.

Run #5

This run had two hides, and ended up being shot in two parts. In this run Chandler suddenly transformed into Distracted Dog. The culprit was a set of clear plastic bowling pins that had colored balls inside them that rattled. Chandler thought they were great; maybe he does like making a lot of noise and commotion. One nice thing about Chandler is that he does redirect well without getting upset. Of course, he is persistent and had to be shooed away from the toys multiple times. I think it took him a while to find the hide under the basket simply because those wonderful bowling pins were nearby. I'm rather torn about this. I do like that he lives with a lot of joy- or as one of my friends has put it "Chandler has gusto." However, play breaks are a bit problematic in the middle of a Nosework course. I'm not sure what to do about this. Maybe I can teach him that he can rattle the toys after he has finished the course?

Run #6

Woohoo! Bowling pins! *sigh* This video has a better view of the infamous bowling pins. However, Chandler did settle into doing his job- or at least he did after being directed away from the food that belonged to our classmates that was sitting temptingly on the table. His thoroughness checking the basket where scent had been hidden during a previous run was amusing. I also find it notable that he reared up against the wall to check the spot where scent had been hidden in previous weeks. After the run I was told he might have showed interest in the blue block because they had hidden scent there, but they had moved it because they were afraid he'd tumble the block around and they would not be able to get it back out.

Run #7

Our third car search was very successful. In retrospect, I find it rather ironic that Chandler had already caught the scent and was beelining toward it at the time I was instructed to refocus him upon the cars. The boy works fast when bowling pins aren't involved. :)

Overall, this was another fun week of Nosework. I'll have to work out what to do about the bowling pins, but I'm happy as long as Chandler is enthusiastic and wagging.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 6

Sadly, this was our last week with the Whippets. Volley is off to agility class, and Skylar is taking a break from Nosework. They are a lot of fun, and I think Chandler will miss them. I know I will.

Run 1

This was one of Chan's quick runs directly to the hide. Interestingly, he doesn't wait for me to open the box and feed him, but instead goes to check another box. This could pose problems if I am not sure whether he has really found the hide. I wonder if it is a case of him being so revved up that he cannot stand still, given that he shakes right after returning to the original box? Of course, he may just want to check the second and third boxes. I really wish I knew what he was thinking.

Run #2

In which Chandler gets to indulge in pounding upon a box.

Run #3

The beginning of this run belongs in a blooper reel. When I said "Search", Chandler immediately shot over to his mat in the waiting area and flopped down on it. Perhaps I had been giving him a bit too much reinforcement for staying quietly on it while Volley was doing her search. Otherwise, I'll just have to put it down to hooliganism.

Despite the false start, we pulled ourselves together and continued searching for the two hides. At about 45 seconds in, Chandler gives me the LOOK after making a find. I generally translate these as "Hey, numb-nose, it's here!" The second hide was at the far end of the table. I think we need more practice finding scent in odd places.

Run #4

Chandler certainly loves his boxes. He seems more enthusiastic about the hides that are in them. Perhaps he finds banging on boxes intrinsically rewarding. The second hide was up on the wall. I think he finds hides that are greatly elevated to be the most difficult. The end of the video is rather interesting, because Chan does walk straight to the third and final hide after taking his "thinking break". Maybe he really did need to take a short break?

Run 5

Sorry...I ran out of memory card on this one. He found it. I don't remember where it was, but he did find it. :)

Nosework Fun Match

The fun match turned out to be an education. It was the first time that Chandler and I searched for scent dipped q-tips that were taped to objects.. The hides were not as easy to access as we had worked with thus far in class. I think Chandler was a bit confused because nobody from his class was present, and we were searching areas that were unfamiliar and also not scattered with the Nosework boxes he is accustomed to.

Run 1- The bathroom.

Most notable in this search is the LOOK that Chandler gives me at about 36 seconds. Apparently, it is his way of notifying me about a find when he can't pound on a box with a paw.

Run 2- The office

I imagine that most real Nosework trials would not occur in areas where yummy dog treats and interesting dog toys were immediately accessible. We had some problems with the cart because Chan knew there was GOOD STUFF on it. I had to step between him and what I think was a treat pouch that had been left on the cart's lower level. As can be seen in the video, Chan is very persistent. Perhaps he considers the food a valid find after having trained for weeks using food. Because of the amount of distractions, this was a very tough search.

Run 3- Building exterior

Distracted dog strikes again! Well, we were the last team to run through the course. I think Chan was more interested in sniffing out the trails of the 20 or so dogs that had searched along the building before he did, and he was most interested in the crumbs of treats that he found just below the hide. Obviously, I need a bit more practice getting his nose off the ground in distracting circumstances.

Run 4- The car

I think there might have been some initial confusion where Chandler thought he should be searching the building again. However, we did get back on track and eventually found the hide in the car's body behind the right front wheel. I don't think Chan did too badly, considering that was only his second car search.

Overall, the fun match made me realize just how much more practicing we need to do, especially with distractions. However, I am very proud of Chandler. At about eight months of age he went through a fear period where he decided all men were EVIL. He's mostly over it, but occasionally will have a barking fit over some person that he considers suspicious or somehow intimidating. His breed does have a significant suspicious/protective streak. I consider these occurrences a glitch in his judgment about what is really dangerous. Both the judge for this fun match and our timer (who kindly also consented to video our run) were very tall men. Chandler did great, even when we were working in small areas like the bathroom or office.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 5

It was less hot and humid on Thursday, so our class was able to take advantage of the weather and do some outdoor searches. In between runs Chandler entertained himself by repeatedly attempting to steal a rabbit fur covered squeaky toy that belonged to Volley. I watched him very carefully to be sure he didn't manage to eat a piece of the fur, like he did last week.

Run 1

As we were in a more distracting outdoor environment, food was included in this hide. Chandler was not distracted, so it was a quick find.

Run 2

No food. No problem. :)

Run 3

This search was interesting because Chandler actually missed finding the box on the first sniff. Instead he focuses on a different box nearby. I'm really not sure what was going on, unless the scent had somehow traveled and pooled.

Run 4

I think Chan is slowing down a bit as the temperature rises. This is a more leisurely find.

Run 5

I really have to wonder if Chandler peeked while the scent was being placed on the pipe. The only other possibility is that scent was being swept down the side of the building. I really wish I had noted which way the breeze was coming from.

Run 6

This was our first attempt at a car search. Given that we have neighbors that like to greet Chan while they are in their cars, I may have some difficulty teaching him not to place his paws on the car. This "no paws" issue may prove thorny, as Chan's favorite find indication is to paw at the box. I think he was a bit at a loss as to how to indicate there was scent behind the license plate.

Run 7

Here is our first attempt at searching the exterior of a building. The scent is hidden on the pipe just past the door. Once again, I think Chandler is at a bit of a loss how to indicate a find when he can't paw at it.

Run 8

Unfortunately, I didn't get footage of our last search. It was set up like an Odor Recognition Test. There were 12 boxes set up in a "U" shape in one of the training rooms. We had 3 minutes to figure out which box had the birch scent inside.

It took Chandler 14 seconds.

I'm proud of my boy. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: On the dock.

I really love my new camera.
I also love friends that help me edit photos while I am learning how to do so.
Thanks L.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Updated photo of Kateri

Here's a more recent photo of the birthday girl. I'm glad you liked the birthday message, M. Kateri has grown up beautiful.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Snapshot Sunday: I LOVE my new camera.

Happy Birthday Kateri!

Today is Chandler's grand-niece Kateri's first birthday.
She lives in the next town over.
Happy Birthday, Kateri!
The photo is from when she was about 6 months old.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 4

Thursday did not have an auspicious start. Rowan ran me over just past 6 am, demanding breakfast, so I crawled out of bed and fed the cats and Chandler. Usually I can get some more sleep after feeding everyone, but a thunderstorm rolled in, and I gave up on sleep and got an early breakfast of my own.

The Labrador was back in class this week, and a lady with a cattle dog and merle Border Collie (I think) had also joined us. She kept her dogs out in the other room. Chan wasn't as fast at making finds this week for some reason. I'm not sure whether it was stress because of the early storm, the presence of new dogs, lingering scent in the boxes from the previous beginner class, or something else.

Run 1

The simulated effects of an earthquake about 30 seconds into this video were caused by yummy food in a bowl on the table where the camera was. I really can't blame Chan, and I don't know why the food wasn't in a sealed container. It seems odd that it wasn't after the dogs have spent weeks looking for food in boxes.

Run 2

I think Mr. Hooligan was attempting to stage a raid on that bowl on the table again. Nancy blocked him, and he decided to get down to work. I find it interesting that Chandler looped out around the yellow cone before homing in on the correct box. It makes me wonder what way the scent was flowing.

Run 3

I do like Chan's enthusiasm...however, I did have to restrain him from checking out the table again...although he does manage to bop the camera. It is interesting how much "shaking off" Chandler did while searching. I think it is a sign of him being a little bit stressed during this particular class, maybe because we won't let him check out the table.

Run #4

I do wish the I had better footage for this run. There are two hides, one of which is about 3 feet up on the right wall. He had difficulty with it. I need to find the time to practice height with him. Interestingly, he quickly finds the second hide on the back of the chair, even though he had walked past it several times previously.

Overall, I found this week's class a bit perplexing. For whatever reason, Chandler seemed to have more difficulty working.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gratuitous Video Footage Tuesday: Whippets R Fun

Ever since Chandler began to show a tendency for hindquarter strains and injuries related to his loose hips, I've been cautious about taking him to dog parks, despite his sociability. There is always the chance that a more assertive dog will make him over-accelerate or just plain not allow him to stop. These outings pretty much ceased when he reached his second birthday and his natural bossy English Shepherd nature started blossoming. There was just too much risk that he'd try to be the "fun police" and get himself in past his abilities; you never know what's going to walk in through the gate at a dog park.

Because of this most of his canine social outings have been with smaller groups of my friends and their trained and socialized dogs. Both of the Whippets in Chan's nosework class are quite nice, so I've slowly been letting him play with them. Being light, they also essentially rebound off him even if they collide. Last week, I quickly removed Chan when I thought he was getting a bit too bossy. This week my smart boy did not even try to herd Whippets.

First on the scene here is Skyler. His sister Volley arrives later and takes full advantage of her female prerogative to leap all over the boys. Skylar's owner is the one busily praising Chan for polite play. Please excuse my chuckling in the background. ;)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 3

It has been a busy week. Between work and other concerns, I had no time to practice any Nosework with Chandler. However, he was in high spirits when we arrived at Tails U Win Thursday morning. Apparent, Skyler the Whippet was also, because Chandler and I were greeted with happy "wow-rowrow"s as we exited the car. Once in the building, Chandler didn't want to wait for the finish of the Beginner's Nosework class that proceeds our intermediate class. I diverted him by walking away from the door to that classroom, and ended up introducing Chandler to a couple elementary school age girls who were waiting for their mother to finish class with the family dog. The youngest was really taken by Chandler, and declared that he was "talented and sweet." I'm so glad he has gotten over that single bad incident with children that happened when he was two; he seems to be a magnet for little girls, and it is so nice to have a dog that is happy to see children rather than nervous about what they might do.

It turned out that the Whippets' owners had also not managed to find time to practice during the week, and the lab once again had to miss class. I don't know if it was the lack of practice or the slightly rainy weather, but both whippets seemed a little confused and off their game during the first run. As far as Chandler goes, perhaps the girl's words about talent were prophecy, because his attitude can probably be best described as:

"I'VE BEEN WAITING ALL WEEK FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Chandler sees boxes scattered all over the room. Chandler wants to sniff. Chandler wants to search. Chandler does not want to play with the Whippets. Chandler wants to work.

...and so he did.

Run 1

Sorry, the camera was turned on a little late for the first run. Showing his typical excitement, Chan shot into the middle of the room, and then had to circle back to find the correct box.

Run 2

Mr. Hooligan still wants to mess with the camera. I'm not sure why. It could be the quirky sense of humor that I think he has. He also likes to poke the cats with his snout to make them mew and complain. I wouldn't put it past him to be amused that we jump to protect the camera.

The "waiting area" behind the ring gates is also visible for the first time in this shot. If we're back there, I generally keep Chan distracted so he's not trying to peek out through the sheets. My class seems to have dispensed with the crates because everyone is dog friendly, so I brought a mat to do some matwork with Chan in between runs.

Run 3

This run is interesting because Chandler seems to catch the scent in the middle of his initial zoom into the room. He quickly turns around to zero in on it.

Run 4

This run was very quick. It looks like Chan is not having trouble with hides on top of chairs anymore. Chandler is doing very well, and Nancy wants to know if Chan is signed up for the Sniff Weekend the training center is having on the 14th and 15th of August. He is; at least for Sunday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Run 5

This was a rather odd run, because Chan immediately found the correct box, but then seemed to dismiss it. He actually "hit the brakes" to circle back to it the first time. I'm not sure why he left it to check out other boxes. It could be because the birch scented q-tips were in a small round tin rather than the larger Altoids box that he was used to. Eventually, he did come back to the correct box.

Run 6

There were two hides on this run.

Mr. Hooligan wants to check out the food dishes on the table. You never know, there might be something in them...and there is some birch scent floating around back there.

That little round tin is still giving Chan some trouble. and he paces right past the cone that it is hidden in several times. However, to me, it seems like he goes straight back to that cone when he realizes there is another hide to find. Maybe he knew it was there because he just passed over it? I may have to practice more multiple hides with him. Unfortunately, I need more scent holding tins before I can do so.