We had taken a break from our nose works over the winter, but I was anxious to get back into it. We needed something else to do while waiting for our weather to finally break, even though we’re limited for space in our house to do too much.
I decided to take one step back from where we left off, to be sure that both Luke and Cricket could start off with success. As it turns out, I didn’t really need to worry about that, because they both remembered exactly where we were at, and it was like we never took a break!
I did my best to get some photos but it was tough to get a lot, because I didn’t want to be distracted with the camera and miss their alerts.
They are both at different stages in their training, so Cricket was started off with the scent inside plastic containers. At first I used a small number of containers in a small area, but quickly kept adding more, and then hiding them a little bit to challenge her! The next time we moved into a bigger area.
I had to go back to my school work to find out what we needed to move on to, because she was obviously ready! Luckily the online classes I take continue to be available to me. At Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, they let you keep your classes for a year in your “library”, and longer if you take new classes.
We added some distraction scents to other containers to try to fool her. I tried two different things – a bar of soap, and some dirty collars. She stopped to sniff both when I had put them out (at separate times), but she was not fooled! I had to keep trying different things to challenge her, and I did stump her when I put out just one cold container and hid the “hot” container (the one with the birch scent) around a corner. I quickly re-set up the scenario with the cold container a little closer to where the hot was, and then she found it with no problem.
When we left off last fall, Luke had started doing Mock ORT’s (Odor Recognition Test), so to start out now, I hid a magnetic tin with odor in it first around our bedroom (he found it every time with no problem), and then the next time moved him into a bigger area of the house. The first hide I did, he found almost immediately, and though a couple others took him a bit longer, he aced it every time.
I have a tendency to over-do because it’s so much fun, so I have to remember to quit while we’re ahead and not wear him out. I think we’re ready to go back to our boxes, and I finally got a bunch of matching ones to make it more real. I know we are definitely ready to take the 2nd class in this series, and plan to do that this summer.
The dogs remembered everything, but I was the one who needed more review! It’s nice for me to refer back to the class work to see where we’re at. I had forgotten something else: how much fun it is. It is interesting and challenging for me, because Luke and Cricket definitely have different styles. Cricket is prone to “false alerts”, and she spends a lot of time looking to me for those treats, her reward for finding the scent. I have to be careful not to have my hand heading towards the treat bag when she’s getting on the scent. I also have to make sure she keeps her nose on the box in between her glances at me.
Luke almost never looks to me; he is far more focused on finding the scent. He rarely gives a false alert. It will be interesting to see if Cricket gets more like him as we move along. Now that our weather has finally taken a turn for the better, we can start moving some of this outside. Cricket needs that generalization to new areas more, and I need the bigger area of our garage or patio to do better set ups for Luke. We still have to wait for the driveway to no longer be a mud pit, and for the snow to melt off the patio. But we will use the deck, even though that’s smaller. The most important thing is to have fun, and I think we’re accomplishing that already!