This week was a week of distractions.
Our first distraction was a thunderstorm rolling in. Bear isn’t afraid of thunder but he does bark at loud noises outside the house (when he’s inside) and this goes for motor bikes, loud trucks, fire works and…thunder. The great thing about prairie thunderstorms is you can see them miles away. I could see this one in the distance and we managed to finish tracking and make it home before rain, thunder and lightning were upon us. Bear stopped several times to listen to the distant thunder but was able to continue tracking.
Our second major distraction is what we call prairie dogs (they are actually thirteen-lined ground squirrels) and this week I had one run over my foot! Luckily, Bear was 20 feet away at the time, and we made so much noise walking through the tall grass that he couldn’t hear it scamper away. I played it cool and tried to pretend like nothing happened hoping not to give it away. I think that’s going to be my plan when I see one of those little critters from now on.
This week we worked through two tracks a day with two corners each. We also found a new patch of grass to track in and it has hills, actually they are more like berms, but they are great tracking challenges.
Body Language & Handling
The biggest challenge for me this week was that we have started fading the food
(for bear) and the flags on track (for me). Taking out the visual cues (flags) for me means that I really have to watch Bear and make sure he seems committed to a corner before we start down that leg of the track. In a CKC tracking trial, if you deviate too far from the track you could disqualify so knowing the difference between being on track and general sniffing around is important. Right now it’s easy to see Bear find corners as we are still working with food drops at corners to guide Bear’s nose left or right but eventually we won’t have that to help either.
One day this week, while I was gardening, Bear stole my glove and paraded around the yard with it. So I told him what a good dog he was and tossed the other one for him to retrieve! I know this is technically NOT an indication but I could not help but reward that enthusiasm and initiative!
The glove game we have been playing involves:
- filling a glove with kibble, and sealing the ends off so Bear cannot get the kibble himself.
- Tossing the glove away or hiding it in random locations
- Telling him to “find it”
What he’s been doing is finding it, grabbing it and flipping it with his nose and when he realizes there are no kibbles coming out – he lays down and I come to him and take some cookies out of the glove for him. We play this game until the glove is empty and my plan is to fade out the kibble entirely by starting with fewer and fewer cookies in the glove.
Meters tracked this week
Meters tracked since Week One
- Only one track a day…but;
- No food!
We start aging the track up to 25 minutes!