Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nose Work Week 5

Tonight was Vegas' nose work class. Hard to believe this session is almost over. We worked three finds tonight. The first was off leash in the workout area at the armory. One hide was in the entrance area but very low, under the lockers. Another was up about three feet on an upright post of a bench press, and the third was about the same height but on the flat surface of another piece of gym equipment. As we began the search we were to hang back in the entrance to encourage the dogs not to just enter the room. Since a hide could be in the entrance, it's important for the dog to recognize what we, as handlers do, with each search. By hanging back it encourages the dog not to barrel into the room and possibly miss odor at the entrance. Interestingly enough, Vegas picked up odor at the entrance right away but she didn't stick with it. She moved on and then picked up the second odor on the bench press almost immediately - and again, didn't stick with it. After giving a passing interest and greeting to some of the other handlers in class, she pretty much cruised right to the third hide and got her reward.

Our instructor has this little carrying basket with eight cups to put each of our treats in so she has them handy to pair with the odor. During this search she put it on top of a ladder at the far corner of the workout room - no where near the hides. After getting the first hide, Vegas went around that large, central piece of gym equipment and almost beelined for the ladder. She and another dog clearly smell food when present. It took more than once to call her off that, to "leave it," and proceed with her search. In her mind, she had obviously found source!

She then fairly quickly made her way back to the front of the room and identified the first two odors she had not "stuck" with before.

Our next search was in an office area, again three hides, and we worked off-leash. Last week and this week we've worked higher up hides and lower ones and have been learning to watch the dog's head tilt particularly when they are searching down low or under things. This one wasn't too hard for Vegas either and she found the one hidden under a table first. From there she quickly turned around and nailed the one hidden under the old-fashioned heat register (the kind that is about two and a half feet tall, shallow, along walls/windows). Her final hide was in close proximity to the first two but up higher on a copy machine.

Our last search of the evening was another box drill but this time in lines. We had set up two lines of seven boxes each. I didn't know which one contained odor and this exercise was unpaired. Vegas seemed to jump right in at first and was searching the boxes but, right near the end of the first line, she suddenly became disinterested in the boxes and seemed to start to shut down. It took some doing but I got her back and, after a couple of passes on the lines, she found the source and my "alert" was correct.

All in all a good class - we skip next week since our instructor has her hands full with the trial the following weekend but we'll finish the class the following and then take a week or two off.

1 comment:

  1. The classes sound like so much fun. There's a place that has Nosework classes, along with a ton of other awesome things (lure coursing, flyball, "card tricks for dogs", "bowling for biscuits", etc) but they're much too far to make it worth the effort.

    Good luck with tracking today (or whenever). If she still seems to be having an off day, I'd take a day or two off. Not consecutively necessarily, but if you were planning on tracking today, Friday and Sunday, I would wait until just Sunday to resume. Sometimes they seem to need a mental break to realize how much they enjoy it.