The idea was to help her build a very positive "conditioned emotional response" to nosework. That meant that she'd become conditioned to feel confident and happy when we did nosework. Then, when we took nosework on the road, the hope was that she'd feel equally confident and happy even in situations that used to scare her.
|Shyla is usually very happy and confident near our house|
Well, I really think that it's working. Yesterday, I took Shyla to a site where we did lots of counter-conditioning and socialization years ago to try to help her overcome her fears. There's a busy road next to the site, and she used to startle whenever a louder vehicle went by. There's a smaller road very close to the site, and the cars going slowly there used to scare her too.
Yesterday's search went better than I could have dreamed. I hid 4 scent sources, 3 on the picnic tables and 1 on the tree to the right of them. I made a short video of her search. You'll see only one fear-related glitch at 52 seconds or so in the video. She was heading for the scent on the tree when a car went by slowly on the smaller road. She stopped to stare at it, and she forgot about the scent on the tree. It took her another 45 seconds to come back to the tree and find the scent.
In the video, each time you hear me say "alert", Shyla has just done her typical "nose on the source" indication of the odor source. I go in and give her treats as close to the source as I can. Then, I ask her to "find another", which means to go find a new source (not the same one again).
Here's the video. I hope that you enjoy seeing the two of us having fun in town doing nosework. I actually never thought that Shyla would "have fun in town" but she did yesterday!