NW3 Training – Blind Hides

So, after more than a year, Iona finally got into her second NW3!  Our first NW3 was in Las Vegas and it was really really close, however but we did not title.  At the NW3 level, you do not know how many hides are in each search area.  There can be 0-3 hides.  To get your NW3 title, you need to find every single hide in every single search area.  As such, there are extremely low pass rates and because you need to pass three NW3s to get to the elite level, there is a huge bottle neck of teams competing at that level. 

For our first NW3 in Las Vegas, Iona was searching really well all day.  In fact she had found every single hide as we walked into our last search of the day.  Then we got caught in a really tough pooling odor problem and she just could not source the hide and we timed out.  It was really discouraging because she really worked great the whole day.  At that time, I determined that I would not travel far for an NW3 and have been focusing more on AKC trials since then.  

For all the NW3 trials, the wait list is often huge (over 100 dogs).  This is because they are infrequently offered relative the number of dogs that are at this level.  However, we were lucky enough to get off of one of these wait lists and now we will be competing in one in November.  I am taking Stacy Barnett’s 250 course at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy at the Bronze level. Here are some baseline videos and my thoughts are areas that we can work on in preparation for the trial.  The following searches are all blind (meaning someone else set the hides for me). 

This was our first search of the night.  It shows how scary good Iona can be.  She controlled all of this search and it ended up just fine.  These were all searched in cool conditions as the sun was setting with an offshore breeze.  As you watch her source the first hide, you can tell exactly what the wind is doing.  She immediately gets into a huge scent cone from the start line.  Per her typical technique, she works the edge of it, first where it is stacking up along the hedge, then the edges of the “cone”, then the nearby bushes and finally sources.  If you haven’t seen her do this before, it seems like a lot of wasted motion, but it is just the way that she works.  It seems like she ran right past the second hide, but then she moves straight over to it, so she must have cataloged it.  You can see (.45), that there is some odor pooling in the plants (higher humidity), but she is able to sort that out fairly quickly.  After sourcing the second hide, she moves out to the open space but at .56 clearly catches the third hide.  The cool thing is that she rounds up this odor off of the hedge!  This is same location that she first picked up odor from the first hide, yet she can easily unspool the odor from the third hide and ignore the odor from the first hide.  Phenomenal!  She even given an “up” indication as she checks the trash can.  

Overall, I think that I did a good job at staying out of her way.  At :06, you can see that I am trying not to run. I have found that if I am running, then she is missing odor. 

Takeaway from this search is let her lead. 

Hide 1 – 26 sec, Hide 2 – 24 sec, Hide 3 – 21 sec

So this second search area was much harder and it is pretty painful to watch.  I definitely do a poor job at directing Iona through the search area and this is on display here.  In future, I will stay away from yanking her around and just give her a little whistle.  That seems to work pretty well.  You can probably hear me doing this in the later searches.  In a big area like this with lots of Odor blowing around and pooling in the plants, Iona will often spin her wheels for a while before getting down to business.  Sometimes, I can get her to start working right away by directing her to an object and I was trying to direct the search.  While it is important to have an idea of where she needs to go, I can not forget to watch her closely.  Here I missed two COBs and as a result pulled her off of odor twice.  At (.27), this was just ridiculous, but it shows how much she will fight to get to odor!.  At 1:00, she was sprinting towards that seconds hide and I was just two focused on checking the tables.  I need to remember that she is an scent cone dog not a detailer and all I need to do is get her by all the objects. I also need to watch her more closely when she is moving quickly.  For the next searches, I altered my startline a bit.  It was not caught in the videos, but instead of holding her at the line and then “popping the cork”, I just walked up and then casually started her, this definitely decreased her arousal for the next two videos.  Also, I might try to shorted my line. 

Pooling odor puzzles like this are hard because of Iona’s search style.  She likes to get to the edge of the scent con

Hide 1 – 38 sec, Hide 2 – 48 sec

This search went pretty well. I let her lead the search but also did a good job at influencing her to make sure that she stayed within the boundaries.  I went back and made sure that we checked our threshold.  you can see that she wants to check the grass.  This is because we have been doing a lot of wide open grassy lawn searches (because they are fun).  It is probably time to stop those as they just encourage her to run bigger.  She needs to practice in smaller areas. 

Hide 1 – 20 sec, Hide 2 – 35 sec

On this search, we got our only missed hide of the night.  At the time, I felt really confident with my finish call, but in retrospect, I can see exactly what happened.  The wind is traveling down this alley from the start line to the last hide on the trash can.  For her to source that hide, she needed to get behind that trashcan, or at least up close to that trash can.  She could not source it by just doing a drive by of the front.  Also, she was tired by then and had her mouth open for large sections of the search. She is much less efficient when this happens.  

There is one other thing that these videos did not capture. Iona has a tendency to false alert if odor is falling on her from above and I keep her in an area for a long time.  This alert looks different from a regular elevated hide alert. I need to look up the rules for elevated hides in NW3 and practice at that level and lower. 

Another thing that I neglected to do on any of the searches is time myself.  If I had been timing myself in the second search, I would have realized that we were on track with 30 second still the first hide. 

Hide 1 – 28 seconds, Hide 2 – 122 seconds. 

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Recall Game

This game is perhaps the most important game that we play with Iona.  It enables us to take her places off leash safely because it builds the foundations of a solid recall by making running to humans fun.  Also, it is the most efficient way to exercise her.  

Basically, all you need is a large open field and two people with food. Here Dani holds Iona while I call her and then we switch. 

Since Iona knows this game well, she eagerly runs back and forth between us.  We make it fun by hiding while she is not looking.  I will also change things up by sending her out (telling her, “go find Dani”) before I release her. 

When I am alone with her, I will just wait till she is busy and not noticing me and then run to the other side of the field and call her.  This works well and it ensures that she always keeps an eye on me. 

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