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K9 Nosework — D&E Go to School


bradl
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Dundee & Elroy  are stoked after their first class in an introduction to nosework class. Road trip ... outdoor smells ... treats everywhere! 

Peggy had a brief exposure to nosework with Echo some years ago while I am completely new to it. Peggy worked with Dundee and I worked with Elroy.  There was also a Malinois. It was delightful to watch and learn how differently each dog worked.

Dundee appears to have found his calling late in life (he's 12) and is a dog on a mission! He is fast, methodical, and totally mission-focused. And it's a joyful mission as that boy is food-motivated and then some. You almost see the gears moving as he notices a drifting scent and then tries to home in on it.

Elroy at two has a completely different style. He was unfazed by the boxes (I guess some dogs are skittish of boxes for a variety of reasons) but would frequently check in with me. Find a treat, eat the treat, then look up at me. I don't know if he was looking to see if he'd be scolded, given another treat or the go-ahead to continue.  Every time I would utter a "good boy" he would stop and look to me. Then off to find another treat. It was a lot harder for me to see how he was tracking the scents, but after a few tries he seems to be building confidence. He is, true to his nature, a happy little worker, just way more people-focused than Dundee.

We're signed up for ten classes or so and this is just a foundational course so we're just working on the simplest building blocks for the dogs, and teaching the clumsy handlers (who, me?) things like how to keep the lead out of the dog's way when they are bopping around boxes strewn all over the place,  how to keep quiet and let the dogs sort things out without pressure from us, and if, when, and how to intervene to nip  potential bad habits from forming.

It felt good to get out of the house for some fun dog-focused activity. The instructor is great (and very insistent on Covid safety, thankfully).  Our first class took place outdoors at the End of the Oregon Trail  Interpretive Center, which is about 30 minutes from our home. We were on schedule to be early and needed the extra time as we were turned around by a roadblock on the approach to the center from the North (power line down in the road) and had to circle back through Oregon City to approach another roadblock on the South access. Fortunately the instructor had talked with the police to let them know there was a class scheduled a safe distance from the power line, and the police let 3 of us through. One fellow had a less cooperative officer and was unable to get through the roadblock.

Only day one but so far I think this looks to be an activity that will be great fun for the doggos and us. Looking forward. Will try to take some pics at some point in future when it won't be distracting to anyone.

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What a great accounting of a fun activity.  It is easy to get hooked on Nosework.  I am looking forward to the photos.  Enjoy.  Oddly, a friend that works two high energy vizsla, tells me what a workout it is for the dogs.

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Thanks for this interesting info. I wonder... Don't some dogs try to tear the boxes apart? (I'm sure Ruffy would have had even more fun doing that😱)!

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2 hours ago, sanford said:

Don't some dogs try to tear the boxes apart?

Very good question. I noticed that at least in class #1 the boxes were all open and the treat was just laying inside some of them,  laying on top, or even just laying next to it — all for easy access to the reward.  

I think that is a possible by-product of the method of using self-administered treats to teach them that boxes are interesting, should be checked out carefully, and some of them presage reward. One of the 'bad habits' the instructor was looking out for was to prevent mauling the boxes. Things were moving quickly and I didn't quite understand the explanation, but I gathered that its not allowed during tests although I believe she said they "are somewhat forgiving a lifted paw on top" but knocking the boxes around was right out.

I believe later the goal is that as soon as the dog tells *me* there is a scented object in the box, I'm to leap in with a reward before the dog gets to interact overmuch with the container. Their job is not to retrieve the marker but to tell me about it, much like a dog at the airport may simply sit down in front of a target item.

 

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17 hours ago, bradl said:

I believe later the goal is that as soon as the dog tells *me* there is a scented object in the box, I'm to leap in with a reward before the dog gets to interact overmuch with the container. Their job is not to retrieve the marker but to tell me about it, much like a dog at the airport may simply sit down in front of a target item.

 

Thanks for the explanation.  It makes sense, although it wouldn't have deterred Ruffy, who would probably have made a lightning strike and destroyed the box, faster than a speeding bullet!

P.S. The video of tennis balls falling down from above reminds me of a happy walk with Carrington, years ago when squirrels came raining down on us from the sky!  (A story I told here previously).

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Brad, that was a great video of that Lab's retirement "party", he marked and indicated properly, and his reward was a deluge of tennis balls!  I've known a few terriers who would have loved that reward, too.  An embarrassment of tennis ball riches!

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I never heard of this. Thanks for explaining, Brad! I loved the falling tennis balls. Finch would have been in heaven!

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Tennis balls, aren’t they a godsend.  My 1/2 Cairn 1/2 Jack Russell was in heaven with any tennis ball.  Friends brought her a duffle bag full of them (from a tennis club) she hopped inside, not believing her bounty. She was addicted.

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Ball dogs are a mixed blessing :P 

We had a friend who had a dog who was *obsessed* with tennis balls. She was visiting a friend once with her dog in tow and as they were trying to leave the dog "fronted" at the front hall closet and refused to budge. Our friend asked her host, "You have a tennis ball in there?" and the host said, "No way, we don't even own a tennis ball!" Opened the door to prove it and the dog burrowed in and emerged with an old tennis ball from the deepest recesses of the closet. 

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Finch was definitely obsessed with tennis ball. It was fun at times, but it was could be a curse/pain.

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Third class today, working on "thinking outside the box" — both D and E seemed to catch on pretty quickly that while boxes are Very Interesting and often pay out, there may be edible secrets lurking nearby too. It's such fun watching their heads whip around trying to decode where scent is coming from.

d1.jpg

d2.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

The boys are enjoying the heck out of this new game. Free treats and all they have to do is find them! This week class was at a local (closed at the moment) amusement park, which was fun. Sorry no pics, the class format was such that D & E were back-to-back so no chance to take a photo we were running back and forth to the car so much.

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