Back In The Game

After a holiday hiatus, we are back into our Nose Work classes.  Pongo has sniffed his way to Advanced Nose Work and is preparing for a trial in May.  Our instructor Liz, at Alaska Dog Sports made today’s class especially challenging for the dogs.  Instead of using the usual small, metal tins to hide the scents, she put the scented q-tips into empty pens.  That means the scent could only travel through the very small opening at the end of the pen.

I love watching Pongo take on a challenge but felt for him today when he struggled a bit to find the hides.

We also had a chance to practice box drills.  Pongo is working really hard on alerting with a sit instead of becoming the Smash-O-Nator and destroying the hide or the box.  All of these small details matter in a trial.  He can find the hide no problem but if he disturbs the hide area, it’s a fault.  So, practice, practice, practice!

3 thoughts on “Back In The Game

  1. Pongo’s awesome at this game! I loved watching him work. I also noticed you’re into competition nosework and was wondering if you could answer a question for me: Are the dogs just supposed to recognize the odor upon given the Go Find cue (and trained to generalize the cue — environmental/among different odors, etc) or are they presented with the scented article and it’s then hidden for them to find/identify?

    What if there are multiple odors and the dog is supposed to locate/identify only one of them? How do you tell him which one you want him to find?

    • It is fun to watch him-he’s so serious about his “job”. We haven’t competed in anything yet. The sport is pretty new in Alaska but is really starting to take off. We had a mock trial last Summer, which was great practice. We’ve also had an official Odor Recognition Test (ORT) so that when we have our trial in May, it can be a real trial. We hope to some day travel down to the Lower 48 to do some trials.

      I’d be happy to try and answer some of your questions but please understand I am no expert. :+) The National Association of Canine Scent Work is a great place to find a lot of good information: Nose work training starts out with the dog finding hidden treats. You then move on to pairing a treat with the scent, which in Nose Work I is the Birch scent. Once the dogs have the pairing down, you remove the treats and are now solely finding the Birch Scent. All the finds are hidden before the dog enters the room. It’s amazing how they know exactly what scent to look for.

      Nose Work II is where you may start to introduce Anise. Anise is a much strong scent and I find Pongo hits on Anise pretty quickly. There may be a mixture of hides that are either Birch or Anise but they all count if the dog finds it. You will not have to tell the dog which scent to find. A find is a find whether it’s Birch or Anise or Clove (Nose Work III includes Clove. We haven’t introduced or worked Pongo on Clove). This sport is making sure that the dog is successful. Even if you/dog “alerts” in the wrong area, you always take the dog to the true hide and give them a treat.

      I hope this answered some of your questions. :+)

      • Yes, it definitely did! Thank you very much. I only asked because my dog has been taught to discriminate objects, directions and opposite behaviors. It would be so awesome if I trained Birch/Anise/Clove the same way, but seeing as the process is quite tedious, I’m glad any correct alert is a correct alert. 🙂

        Thanks again!

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