Friday, September 20, 2013

Learning From K9 Nose Work NACSW National Invitational Videos: Kristie & Jasper Part 2

Lots of nose work fun from coast to coast this past month has delayed parts two and three of the Kristie & Jasper videos. So, I will not delay any further. Enjoy the sniffing!

Day Two of NACSW National Invitational

Equipment Exterior - I love that Kristie kept the leash on Jasper for this search, it gives a nice contrast to Muriel's off-leash work in the same area. The more I watch videos of the exterior search at the National Invitational, the more I wish there was a search area like that in my backyard!

Jeff McMahonInteresting that he headed straight for the truck first, then on the same path as Muriel to the hide behind the plate on the yellow truck's front bumper, the stack tires, then the tube.

Kristie Cervantez: This was our first search of the day Sunday and I think we went 2nd, lucky for us, it was not too hot at that time.  Very windy though. I remember walking up and the Steward told me there were 8 we were told “unknown number”.  In watching the video, I really lucked out at where I started Jasper.  Again, though, I just walked up and that is where we started and it looks like we were lined up directly with the hide on the back of the truck. Jasper went right to it.  Good way to start the day.  Again, no real plan to start..I just followed his nose.

JM: I like your ID of Jasper crittering in the gravel as you head towards the tires. He's much different when he's just farting around and odor is not nearby.

KC: He is very different when he is not on odor.  My thought at the time was cat poop or something so we moved along. I guess I figured we will just walk around the perimeter and see where his nose stops.

JM: worked the tire stack hide similar to Muriel - on a mission, passed the hide and u-turned fast, sourced with confidence. very nice.

KCLittle Man was playing his “A” game.

JM: Tube hide presented no challenge for J-man!

KC: Again...just following Jasper while he does the work.

JM: Nice job getting him back to the perimeter/threshold for that hide on the red steps.

KC: We just ended up there after our “walk around”.  Michelle told me not too many people found that one.  I am actually glad that we ended up doing this search on-leash.  It helped me keep better track of where we were and may have kept him more focused.

JM: good idea to go down the row of vehicles after that threshold hide.

KC: is where I remember...oh yea..I should be counting how many we have found.  I was so focused on Jasper that I forgot to count.  I even asked Natalie, she was timing, jokingly how many have we found so far.  I even stopped for a second trying to count.  I think I stopped at that yellow tractor and Jasper found a hide.

JM: Interesting choice to go back to the corner where tires stacks end, then to work the trash dumpster. You take him back after he leaves, I actually like that strategy in most situations - might have worked well in the warehouse interior to sort out the shipping crate hide faster.

KC: Now is the point where I am thinking have we found 6 or 7?  Where have we not been?  That dumpster and scoop look like they are there for a reason (they were there for a reason..distraction!  No odor on them) so I asked Jasper to work them.  Nothing where are we going to go???

JM: Dang - that pressure washer was a tough two-hide object. He pushed right past the hide on the hitch to get to the one on the fender. No wonder no one found 8 out there!

KC: We went to the only corner we had not been...THE PRESSURE WASHER..  Little Man looks like he actually caught the one on the hitch first, then the fender.  He alerted on the fender and then bad handler me, I pull him off in the wrong direction.  Now I really cannot remember how many we have found..7 or 8?  Do I call finish or keep going? 

JM: Interesting to me that you would choose that corner for the last 45 seconds - he really showed nothing there as he found a hide in the tires and a hide in the tube - nothing between. I guess, at that point in the search it really doesn't matter where you go because you'd have to go back where you just were to find hide 8, but it is interesting to think about.

KCWe kept going and headed back to the corner..not even sure why..Than they call 30 seconds.  He alerts on the tire again and what the heck, I call finish.  It was a fun search.  He did great.

* Only the raw footage is shown for this search. The commentary for this video was done a total of 3 times. All 3 Coach's Eye videos with commentary became corrupted in the conversion process - there is something about the source video that the app does not like. Since I'm not reading from a script, there were 3 different commentaries, all of them now lost to the digital abyss forever. On the plus side, getting to talk about the video 3 times made me acutely aware of how much can be learned from this search!

To highlight a little bit of what I talked about:

- The garbage bin in the center of the search area was used twice by Jasper to work out two different problems. When thinking strategy, you have to manage your dog's need to work in the same area twice, with your desire to keep him from going back to source a hide he's already found. There's a balance to be struck in terms of how close you allow them to get to an already source hide and how many times you let them go back to an area. In this search, he needed the freedom to cover the same ground at the trash bin, and he would have needed the freedom to re-cover the pressure washer to find the second hide (the only one he missed).

- When Jasper finds the 7th hide on the fender of the pressure washer, Kristie takes him and directs him on to search away from the pressure washer, thus not putting him in a position to work the final hide. I am guilty of moves like this, as I'm sure others are, too. It's worth looking at how our dogs work from one hide to the next when we don't reinforce continued sourcing of the same hide. Be mindful, as each dog will be different, and some are very sensitive to getting paid for finding odor, no matter if it's the tenth time at the same odor without moving. The key to look for is how your dog resumes working once they know a second find is the only way to get more reward at a source. I see a lot of dogs who, once they leave an odor they've been paid for finding, will really make good choices in hunting down that next hide - much better choices than we humans will usually make!

- Kristie very confidently identifies when Jasper is just smelling critters or some other non-target odor scent in the gravel between the yellow truck hide and the stacked tires hide. It's pretty clear which is which when you watch him self-indulge in the gravel and then watch him work a target odor. Where people get caught up is in waiting for a final response. You can't solve a puzzle with just the last puzzle piece, but you can pretty much solve a puzzle with all of the pieces but the last one. Focus on the behaviors leading up to your dog finding source. This will give you what you need to rule out non-target odor interest, and to be confident your dog has found source even when he doesn't give you a clear final response.

Warehouse - This one was down to the final seconds for Kristie & Jasper! If you don't know/have forgotten, this was a known number of hides the dogs were searching for, so at the 30 second warning with 5 hides found, she knew there was one more out there somewhere.

JM: Your pace is nice and his responses to odor are strong.

KC: This was really fun too.  It was only 2 mins and Jasper was all business.  He seemed like he found one right after the next.  His “retrieving” behavior really showed itself on the second hide we found, on that big white thing.  He sourced it so well because he was trying to retrieve it.

JM: Squeaked that threshold broom hide in at the last second! Nice job!

KCI loved this search because I just had this overwhelming feeling of confidence in him.  Thus far, we had not made one false call.  You know I had been struggling since last Nov in San Pedro with my confidence in him and more so in myself.  It felt so good to have shaken all of that off and be able to “trust” my Jasper and have FUN.

Part three to follow in the next week or so. Thanks again to Kristie for sharing her videos!

Happy Sniffing!


  1. Really nice searches! Thank you Jeff and Kristie for sharing. Rainy weekend here on the Oregon, I will be watching these a few more times.

  2. These were really fun to watch! Nice job, Jasper!

  3. Excellent videos and commentary! Thank you for sharing :)