May 6, 2010

Introduction to Scent Work

Kaleigh, a one year old Lab who is staying with me at my loft this week, is almost impossible to tire out. Believe me I've tried. And I've succeeded but it wasn't easy. Long runs (ok, maybe it was just 3 1/2 miles but that's long for me, ok!!), 2 hour long walks with lots of manners work, and play dates with all kinds of dogs. We needed more of a challenge so my good friend and excellent colleague Jenny Chun came over to help me introduce Kaleigh to NoseWork since it's easier when you're two people and we both have an interest in Nose Work. In essence we'd be teaching Kaleigh to use her excellent nose to find a "hide"- a desirable object - in a box. We used seven or eight different looking boxes and as you can see on the videos one of us would hold Kaleigh back while the other would place the object in one of the boxes and then switch the boxes around making it difficult for Kaleigh to predict where the object was. In these tree short videos you can see the difference in how Kaleigh goes about finding the treat pouch in the box. She becomes increasingly good at using her nose and following the scent as we keep practicing. A dog like Kaleigh could probably go on for hours but with a less intense and enthusiastic dog you would want to keep the practice sessions short and sweet.
This is how all nose dogs begin their training. Building up the desire to search for the object and making sure the dog succeeds at each step, then rewarding generously when the dog finds the "Hide". It's important to throw out all notions of manners or obedience when you do this kind of stuff. You just want the dog to LOVE searching for stuff. After all one day it might be a person buried under rubble or snow or a lost child.
See if you can see kaleigh's progress.....