Nose Work: False Alert problems

Ravenbird

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Here are photos of 2 real alerts and 2 false alerts. False alert meaning she said "Here it is!" and it's not true, but since she is showing a true alert I call it and it's an instant NQ. Since it looks so real & honest I can't very well ignore it. Choices are to keep looking & come back to it, but then you wonder how much damage you're doing when the dog doesn't get rewarded for telling you where it is. Wouldn't they think "Well, hell. If this doesn't get me paid, what are we looking for?"

I've just signed up for a webinar on false alerts, I'll let you know what we learn!

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wow her false alerts are very confusing!

Are they allowed to touch the articles with anything other than a nose? I know it's not the same thing but if I was wasn't totally sure if Rubie was on a rat (her typical alert was deliberate eye contact, as well), I'd start getting her excited like "show me! show me!" If she pawed at it and then looked back at me, it was almost always a rat.

Curious about what you learn, as well!
 
Are they allowed to touch the articles with anything other than a nose?
It's highly discouraged and faults if they paw/smash a box or mouth it. Kinda like in barn hunt the dogs are not allowed to grab the tube and shake it and throw it across the room. (LOL, that's what Reckless did when she did an intro to barn hunt. They decided they can't do that sport. 🤣) The hides have to be the same for everyone at each level and they don't want dog slobber or foot odor (dog paws contain scent of their own) on the container that may help or hinder the next dog(s). Asha has a very distinct jerking her head straight up to look at me. I'll get some videos up on Youtube to share.

I'll fill in what I learn. Do you get false alerts in Barn Hunt? Is it instant NQ if you call it and it's not a rat?
 
Some of my thoughts from, I guess you would say, an intermediate perspective:

I'm thinking it might be a good idea to go back and work on building value at the source and rewarding her being as close to the source as physically possible. That would mean rewarding right on top of the source (in practice) so she holds her nose over it instead of making eye contact with you to indicate. Eye contact in itself is pretty rewarding, after all that is something we do in obedience often is reward eye contact (focused heel). So I would personally go back to the beginning of building value for source and reward sooner and not wait for when she looks at you.

I'm guessing she is most likely "false" alerting to the fringe or residual odor. They hardly are ever wrong, the scent is probably there somewhere close but she's not indicating exactly where source is other than standing near-ish and looking at you. Possibly due to inadvertently rewarding her that she doesn't have to be precise in indicating. In lower levels, the location to where the hide is obvious enough to the handler because the hides are typically far apart. Eye contact works "good enough" to where precision on the alert isn't necessary until you start getting into the advanced levels.

I think building high value directly over source again will help her clearly understand that you want that strong indicator for the precise location of the source and not for the residual odor.

Staying at the source - Teach a break off cue for when to leave the source, so that no matter what you do, she will stay glued to that source unless told to break. So you could send her in and not follow her, you could walk away and she'd be on source.

She's also possibly picking up on handler cues. If you typically slow down or stop moving in practice when shes right, she may be reading on your body language and then in competition think "well Mom must know something is here".

What webinar are you taking? Once Ripley is done showing I'm looking forward to trialing for nosework and barnhunt! I'm sure there are some great advanced exercises out there that can be done to help proof and build precision so I look forward to your feedback on the seminar!
 
Do you get false alerts in Barn Hunt? Is it instant NQ if you call it and it's not a rat?

Yes on both accounts!

Her alert was always direct and intentional eye contact, even if it was occasionally brief. Sometimes, she would also nudge a tube with her paw or nose and then give me 'the look.'

If she was 'stuck' on a tube and pushing it around and pawing at it and I was getting nervous on time, I would almost always called it and it would be not-a-rat. I didn't wait for the eye contact. There's also the challenge of low, high, midlevel, perimeter, middle, and sometimes semi-hidden tubes. She was pretty efficient at clearing more areas on her own but, again, in trials she struggled and I would make bad calls.

I will also say, in our short tenure in barn hunt, I never missed a cue she did give me and for that, I will say Go Us!

Does anyone in nosework teach their dog like a 'sit' cue, or anything? like bomb or drug dogs?
 
Does anyone in nosework teach their dog like a 'sit' cue, or anything? like bomb or drug dogs?
Usually you reward whatever they offer but always look for nose directly on source. Sometimes they can't put their nose on source (high hides) so you want them to attempt to get as close as possible to indicate the location. In UKC there are vehicles hides and the dogs are allowed to put their paws on the vehicles to get closer but have to wear booties. When rewarding value for source, some dogs offer a down to get close and thus are rewarded and then their indication involves a down. That is why once they understand what they are supposed to be looking for, waiting out any pawing or nudging is typically advised so you don't inadvertently reward that.
 
rewarding right on top of the source (in practice) so she holds her nose over it instead of making eye contact with you to indicate.
We were taught to let the dog choose their alert. I hesitate to change that now. I have worked on clicking for holding nose to source duration, trying to increase it. But her alert is pretty locked in.
I'm guessing she is most likely "false" alerting to the fringe or residual odor.
I agree and will have some exercise to work on this! Examples: setting a hide, let it "cook" for an hour, move it over 12" then run the dog or set boxes out with one hot box, run the dog, move it over 12" and run the dog again. The lingering odor will be there but they have to find source.

She's also possibly picking up on handler cues.
This will be addressed in the webinar - hoping to learn more. I video a LOT since I'm having to be my own teacher, and I was thinking Asha doesn't really look to my actions much, but I could be very wrong. I have lots to learn!

What webinar are you taking? Once Ripley is done showing I'm looking forward to trialing for nosework and barnhunt!
Scent Work University - they have lots of classes, seminars & webinars. Just this weekend they began a series for False Alerts, so I jumped for the first one. Have it now, plan to watch in the morning. You & Ripley will LOVE any kind of nose work!
 
Does anyone in nosework teach their dog like a 'sit' cue, or anything? like bomb or drug dogs?
As @Rits said, you can, but we were taught that for the sport to let the dogs choose their alert to you. They learn by pairing odor with food, every time they smell the food it happens to also smell like Birch. So then just Birch the dog finds it and says where's the food that's always with this?
So yes, eye contact is usually an alert saying "here it is, where's my paycheck?" It's not hard to teach a sit or down - I did that for human scented articles and Asha learned it quickly, but I keep that game separate and she knows if it's a human article to down, if it's essential oils to just look. I won't be mixing the game up because it's two different trials.

As an aside, the reason drug/bomb dogs down and stay with odor started because in a court of law, they may need proof to non-dog people that the dog indicated precisely where the drugs were. It's a much bigger visual and quite obvious. If you want to go for placement in AKC or UKC the time it takes for a dog to stick and lay down then get back up and keep searching is time consuming and 1st - 4th may just be seconds apart. And again, like @Rits mentioned there are hides that can't be reached (in a drawer, on a shelf) and the judge can ask you at any time if you call alert, where is the dog pointing. So if the dog downs in front of a desk, you have to be able to say which drawer.

Fun stuff, eh?!
 
You & Ripley will LOVE any kind of nose work!
Oh yes! I know she looooves nosework, haha. We have taken a couple of sessions now. I have a habit of jumping on any and all classes when they are available since we are over an hours+ drive out to go to any training facility in our surrounding area and I never know if it will be offered again. Something like a nosework class is a rarity around here. I also like to try to soak up as much as I can even when I know I don't have the time to trial anytime soon, that way when we are ready to trial, we already are above novice. The real struggle is the balancing of time and funds lol!

We were taught to let the dog choose their alert. I hesitate to change that now.
You're right! I don't think she would be changing her alert, you would simply be rewarding her alert sooner. She puts her nose to the source first, then whips her head, then is rewarded. I suppose you could do the head whip, does she ever put her nose back on source so you know precisely where it is? Or do you only know the general area? I'm guessing somewhere along the way she started believing residual or fringe odor was acceptable, like you're thinking.

I know you guys will see this through though! My instructor said advanced is usually where the foundation skills of teaching nosework is really important and its the level where people tend to struggle so you aren't alone in this! I'm sure we're going to have our own unique challenges when we get there :rolleyes: so its fun to talk about now and learn through others, lol!
 
Here are 3 videos. @Rits, maybe I didn't clarify, that with Asha looking at me for her alert, I do always feed at source. You will see this in the videos. She stays at pocket level while I'm getting it out, but I take it down to the hide level to give it to her. Not sure if you realized that when you were talking about feeding right over source. Also, in trials you have to be very careful to feed over to the side a little bit, as you will get faults if you drop any food on the hide area.

Here's Advanced Containers, two hides. She got the first one, then false alerted on the 2nd. NQ.



This next one is Advanced Exteriors, two hides. This was Friday and she clearly is not on her game and not her usual high drive self. The noise and crowd of people & dogs in the crate area I think was hard for her to adjust to and wearing on her. At 25 seconds you see her sniffing the surface of a bench. This is not in odor mode, we call it "crittering"- spending time smelling something that is not related to the essential oils. I can tell by her posture and study of it and tell her to come on. At 40 seconds there is a very classic COB, change of behavior, going by the bench, turns sharply to go back. At 56/57 an alert, but was too vague about the exact spot so I encouraged another inspection and got a more precise point. At 1:25 she is distracted and stares off into the distance, something she never does during a search, and told me she was truly not on her game this day. She did find the 2nd hide, so a Q for us and proud she could work even when she was obviously not happy with her new surroundings.


This one is on Sunday, her best run of the weekend. We'd moved up to Excellent in Exteriors, 3 hides. It was right after she'd barked at the judge, she was full of confidence having adjusted her attitude about the crating area going from "what the...?" on Fri to "I know this place and my area is MINE" on Sunday. This is how she acts at searches at home or any of our local area practices. Fast & Furious with no doubts and no messing around. The last hide was in a crack in the sidewalk. This video make my heart sing!



There was no photographer or videographer at the trial, J stepped in to do these when she could, but sometimes our trials were close to the same time & we couldn't watch the other. Obviously any one in the same class was never allowed to watch unless they'd already run their dog.
 
Not sure if you realized that when you were talking about feeding right over source. Also, in trials you have to be very careful to feed over to the side a little bit, as you will get faults if you drop any food on the hide area.
I meant in practice; as far as talking about going back to the basics to building value for source and rewarding directly at source before she head whips. You should be able to tell when she hits it to reward before the head whip. Gradually building duration for staying on source because she is jack potted for returning and staying there, sorry if that wasn't clear! Oh, yeah, I know you have to feed off to the side in trial as to not contaminate the hide. We do that even in practice too, well after value has been built for source. Largely to start training and getting the handler in the habit for trial, haha. That's where the break off cue was super handy for us. You could walk away but your dog stayed at source until it was told to break off to come get the reward, for some it was play with a bumper and others treats. Sometimes we would occasionally go back to building value for source just to keep things clear for the dog. I certainly know it's not the only way, just some ideas that may or may not help.

She honestly did great!!! Even though you could tell she was a little stressed in that first video from the distractions, she still did her job and Q'd! I'm sure her doing nosework is helping her reactivity more and more! Love the excellent video, especially the crack in the concrete. Y'all are doing awesome and maybe the false alerts are just due to a little stress which will only get better and none of this drumming up ideas about false alerts matters 😆
 
I meant in practice; as far as talking about going back to the basics to building value for source and rewarding directly at source before she head whips.
Yeah, it's hard to grasp all the conversations meanings when we're just typing on the keyboard. :rolleyes: That being said, you can see how fast she is, sometimes me being left in the dust by that last video, so not sure if I can beat her to the punch on the alert, even in practice when I know where the hide is. And especially not getting "at the ready" to reward before the head whip, because then I'm doing some kind of body language that will tell her she's right before she gets to it. It's a quandary for sure! 6 of one, half-dozen of the other. I'll be watching the webinar today & see if any of it applies to us. I'm sure it'll be chock full of info and as ALWAYS, back to basics!!!
maybe the false alerts are just due to a little stress which will only get better and none of this drumming up ideas about false alerts matters 😆
I wish, but she's had a history of it on & off. Last summer before my very first trial she was just going down the row of boxes popping her head up at every one. "This one?", "This one?" - truly guessing. I'm pretty sure I posted somewhere here about it. It was maddening! Then we went to the trial and she got a 1st in containers - ran past the row to the end right to it and alerted. Just one hide in Novice, we got it in less than 6 seconds.

The joys of trialing!!!

I really appreciate your input - very curious about the dog staying with source until told to break off. When in search mode, Asha is in a hurry to find the next one. Notice on the container video that she sweeps by the one she already got paid for and doesn't alert again. They learn that a hide never gets paid twice and if they want another paycheck they have to find a new one.
 
They learn that a hide never gets paid twice and if they want another paycheck they have to find a new one.
Yep, same thing applies with the break off. Once given the command, that's when the dog comes to the handler to get rewarded, and then it also tells them to keep looking for a new one to get paid again. It encourages not leaving source until paid. The handlers movement has no effect on them. You could pull on the leash and they won't leave it. It makes it VERY clear when they alert and where. You don't have to worry about them going back either because once you've given the word they know that hide is done and dead.

because then I'm doing some kind of body language that will tell her she's right before she gets to it.
Oh, isn't it fun 😂 there's so much to think about on our part and so little for the dogs. It's natural for them! Ripley is SO in tuned to body language, it comes in to play a lot in agility. If she does something "wrong," it is hardly ever her fault. It was because she saw my husband dropped his shoulder and tilted his head a little, which tells her to turn off the jump instead of taking it. So the next run he pays more attention to his body language and aids her more this time. Sending forward motion signals with a forward facing chest towards the jump along with an arm out palm up to push towards the jump, lastly "GO jump" telling her to take the jump with verbals. Only turning once she commits at take off point. It's truly a dance working with these guys since they are so acutely aware of everything we do! 😮‍💨
 
Notice on the container video
I missed the containers the first time replying! Went back to watch it. Loved how she checked the cone too 😆 anything is suspect! Did they tell you where the second one was? If I remember correctly, they don't do that like in barn hunt?
 
Here are photos of 2 real alerts and 2 false alerts. False alert meaning she said "Here it is!" and it's not true, but since she is showing a true alert I call it and it's an instant NQ. Since it looks so real & honest I can't very well ignore it. Choices are to keep looking & come back to it, but then you wonder how much damage you're doing when the dog doesn't get rewarded for telling you where it is. Wouldn't they think "Well, hell. If this doesn't get me paid, what are we looking for?"

I've just signed up for a webinar on false alerts, I'll let you know what we learn!

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I don’t know anything about AKC scent trials so not sure what you need to be successful. I do have police friends that train drug and bomb dogs. I know it is different, so I apologize if I am off base. When you are training you know the hide correct? I know dogs will false indicate to try and get a reward. Similar to rolling thru position exercises, just guessing to try to get the reward. If my dog false indicates, I mark with my negative marker and give the search command for the dog to continue. I am always telling my people to really pay attention to the dogs body language, if you watch closely and set up failures in training you will quickly learn when your dog is confident in its search and finds. Always know where the finds are for training, eventually you can train without knowing and you will be confident your dog will be correct. Just like in tracking, I still lay tracks for my dogs during most trainings so I can correct any wrong behavior, occasionally having someone else lay a track to see where we are in trial prep. Just remember it’s all still obedience, obedience to the track, obedience to the scent, obedience finding and article. Train it as such, corrections for being wrong or quitting a search, and huge rewards and play/praise for being correct.
If it’s not fun for the dog don’t do it. 😜
 
Did they tell you where the second one was? If I remember correctly, they don't do that like in barn hunt?
They do in Novice, and will actually let your take your dog to it & reward there (there's only one hide in novice) - at least at this trial because I heard them talking to the novice group on Friday morning before we started. I don't think they do after novice, I didn't ask.
The handlers movement has no effect on them. You could pull on the leash and they won't leave it. It makes it VERY clear when they alert and where
I've seen that mostly in narcotics dogs, but saw several trained like that at the trial. It's way impressive!
If it’s not fun for the dog don’t do it. 😜
Totally agree! Asha loves any kind of nose work, and it comes rather easily to her (see the 3rd video). I just watched about an hour of a webinar on false alerts and it was full of ideas and assignments and proofing and watching yourself and your own body language. We've got a big rain event coming up so I guess I'll be inside working on this instead of capping the drive. Asha doesn't care what we do as long as we're doing something. When I reach for a collar she's happy & barking & pushing to get started. Gotta love it.
 
Oh thus is so cool to see Asha At work! I agree, I think there must be either contamination or residual odor. Also, what are the conditions of the room? If a fan is running or something, it can blow scent all over the place. She has a sensitive enough sniffer that she is either falli g for the residual, or the scent molecules are migrating? I just pulled one of my scent theory illustrations (you guys might have something similar in nose work?), but even minimal air currents can make scent do weird things!!
 

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