So I was requested at the conference to create a scoring rubric for the google assessment form. This is a nine point scale. No half points and no zeros. The actual form for printing or for entry are in the score sheet section on this page.
Evaluate the dog by the behavior displayed and how it helps or hinders the dog from completing the target behavior(s). Your assessment should be based on a weeks worth of performance. Not that I would complain if you did a report every day!!!
Evaluate the dogs expenditure or lack thereof of energy used and directed at the target behavior. Average the two scores for reporting. Again no half points, so please round down to the lowest whole number scored or averaged.
In the hunt assessment domain, both handlers worked together
to rate one dog at a time. Dogs were always rated in the same location
in an open field regardless of age. In this assessment, one of
the handlers initiated play with the dog using an odor-saturated
rolled cotton towel, and then threw the towel into an open area 6–9
meters away from the dog (or about 3 meters for 3-month old dogs).
The handler waited for the dog to retrieve the towel and then initiated
another game of tug-of-war. Next, the handler took the towel
from the dog and threw the towel into tall grass so that the towel
was visually hidden. If the dog had difficulty finding the towel, the
second handler stepped in to the grass to help assist the dog. During
the ‘hidden grass’ portion of the hunt assessment domain, the
handlers specifically noted whether the dog used olfaction, and not
vision, to retrieve the towel.
After the dog retrieved the towel from the tall grass, the dog was
allowed to retain the scented towel while the handlers walked to a
part of the open field where 10 overturned plastic flowerpots had
been placed in a straight line. As the dog moved to the line of flowerpots,
the handlers rated the dog’s continued possession of the
towel. Once the dog and handlers reached the flowerpots, one handler
took the towel away from the dog, gave it to the second handler,
and held the dog at one end of the flowerpots. The second handler
walked the entire line of flowerpots, and made physical contact
with each pot, but placed the towel under only one pot so that it
was visually hidden from the dog. In the first flowerpot trial, the
second handler stopped at the opposite end of the flowerpot line,
turned with outstretched arms and open hands, and faced the first
handler and dog. The dog was then released and allowed to search
for the towel without any further cues. Once the dog retrieved the
towel a handler played tug-of-war with the dog as a reward. Next,
the flowerpots were replaced, and a second trial was conducted. The
second trial was identical to the first with the sole exception that
after walking the entire line of flowerpots and hiding the towel, the
second handler returned to the place where the first handler and
dog were located prior to the dog being released to search.
The retrieve is not necessary, keeping possession is by far more important that to make a retrieve. Possession in its three measurements is what defines a superior detection dog from an inferior detection dog. The dog’s independence also defines his ability. You do not want to create a dog that constantly seeks your help and support. We are harnessing the dogs natural ability, not putting an ability into the dog. The primary reward is not the handler, it is the possession of the object/toy.
The cotton towel is rolled into a small “bumper”. A small diameter and length for the 3 month old dog. White cotton wash cloths are ideal for this use. They should be washed in plain water to minimize the odor picture to just the target odor. Use cotton string to hold them in the rolled shape. The desire to use tape or rubber bands may seem simpler, but change the odor picture for the dog. You would use multiple wash cloths to increase the diameter for older dogs.
The flower pots are the cheap green or red pots with the open face being approximately an 8 inch diameter. Ideally the ones with out a bottom tray to retain water. The pots will increase in the amount of distance between them as the dogs age. 10 inches of separation at 3 month and adding approximately 10 inches at each of the testing cycles (3, 6, 9 and 12 months)
An example of the type pot used-
The 3 month test requires a few variations not needed at the older ages. At older ages it is helpful for the dogs to drag a light “check line” that they can drag around. Its much easier to get to the end of a thirty fool line than to the head of a dog. With the three month old puppy have the handler just restrain the dog with their hands across the dogs chest. The older dogs can be restrained by a short section of the long line and collar. The one meter throw for the 3 month old puppy maybe a slight exaggeration. Do not throw much further than you need to that keeps the pups interest from the short grass to the taller grass. Obviously, the degree of tug of war played is much easier at the younger age. The older ages you should use enough tension to see if you can take it from the dog.
Consensus standards created in a public/private partnership