Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tracking in Snow

"Don't they cheat and learn to track by sight?"

We finally had snow this weekend, so Dustin and Bruce each had two snow tracks before everything melted. That certainly isn't enough to teach them to track by sight, but I certainly learned a lot by watching them. Dustin worked well, and I saw him have an "Aha" moment at the turns when he could see what was happening. The second day, his turns were obscured by holes in the snow where clots had fallen from the tree branches -- footprints everywhere! He kept his nose low and checked each likely hollow, and even got the metal article he'd missed the day before.

With Bruce, the snow helped me put on the brakes as we reached an article. I need to cut up my elderly hot-pink sweatshirt for working him; I can see those easily and the dog can't. This is good for a hot tracker who's lukewarm on finding anything. He's maturing, but is still a bit of a scatterbrain. I'm wondering if he'd take to field-trial training and whether I could ILP him as a mysteriousy small Labrador.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Compulsive behavior

We own a tail-chasing dog.

Tasha spins on certain occasions, such as when her preferred person comes home and is mobbed by all and sundry instead of focusing exclusively on her. She spins when she wants her dinner prepared. She spins when she wishes to leave her boarding kennel, which leads to injuries when she's there for more than a couple of days.

However, the dinner preparation starts to look like a cargo cult. She sees me pick up the food dishes, goes into a back room, and spins like the washing machine on the wringer cycle. There is soon food; therefore the ritual has worked.

The past few meals, we've made her come and lie in the kitchen while we scoop kibble and dole out supplements. Her obedience is good enough for down-stay to be effective. I'm hoping her basic intelligence, which generally seems pretty good, will eventually twig to the idea that the food is made even when she is not wearing holes in the rug and her pads.