Saturday, July 17, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 1

Chandler started his second series of Nosework classes this week. Unfortunately the male Whippet, Skylar, was absent this week, but Chandler had a fun time playing with Skylar's sister, Volley, before class. He ended up monopolizing the Floppy Disc, but Volley didn't seem to mind much. Her owner has said that Volley seems to like Border Collies, and from the amount of flirting the year old Whippet was doing, I guess that liking extends to Border Collie breed lookalikes. In the meantime, Chandler continued in his opinion that Volley's mom is A Good Person, and was diligent in pointing out that he is very aware of "which pocket she keeps her treats in, and isn't he behaving quite well and deserving of a treat, thank you"?

Perhaps English Shepherds should come with a warning that they can be manipulative.

The big difference between the Introduction to Nosework Class and the Intermediate Nosework Class was that we started working with birch, the first scent that is used in Nosework Trials. Cotten swabs dipped in the scent were placed in a small perforated tin, which was then placed in the same box where the food was hidden. The idea is to have the dogs start associating the birch scent with the food they knew they were supposed to find.

I decided to stop worrying about Chandler's tendency to rocket out onto the search area based on some advice from another Nosework trainer. According to her, his enthusiasm for work is good and the last thing I want to do is anything that might dampen his drive to search. He remained in high spirits throughout the class, and was very focused on the job; even to the point of ignoring Volley's flirtations while we were waiting our turn behind the ring gates. He did some balancing on his hind legs to see over the gates and a bit of crying, so I ended up distracting him with some of the training equipment that was stored in our gated off corner.

Sadly, we had some camera problems, so I was not able to get footage of our first two or three runs. This is really disappointing because I think the last of these early runs was interesting. Chandler shot onto the search area, suddenly hit the brakes, and immediately homed in on a box sitting on a chair in the middle of the room. I suspect the replay of that particular run might have been interesting, and I wonder if I would be able to better see how he picked up the scent.

However, I was able to get footage of Chandler's last four searches, which I have labeled Runs 1-4, despite the fact that they were probably 4-8.

Run 1

This video shows why I am sometimes a bit confused whether Chandler is truly indicating a find. Sometimes he is a bit rough when investigating boxes and will push them around while sniffing.

Run 2

For some reason, all of the dogs seemed to have some difficulty with this search. They all ended up sniffing around the perimeter of the room instead of homing in on the central hide. Perhaps the scent was being dispersed in a circle by the air conditioning?

Run 3

This was a rather quick find under the cone. Unfortunately the view is somewhat blocked by the chair. The only other thing to note is that Chandler immediately checked the spot where the hide had been located in the previous run.

Run 4

This run had two hides; one was food and the scent, and the other was just a tin with the scented Q tips. I'm very proud of my boy. He quickly found the food and the scent, and then went on to find the scent tin without the food. He was a little bit tentative when there was no food associated with the scent, but I think he has made the connection that the birch scent is something he should be looking for.


  1. Took me a while to respond (forgot where I last read, so having to catch up anyways I got curious and just read everything), but I will definitely be watching your Intermediate Nosework classes with strong interest: curious to see how nosework progresses.

    Couple questions.

    What sort of scent are they using for the birch scent? Is it like an essential oils thing or something else? Yea, I'm clueless when it comes to aromatic stuff.

    Also, do your trainers put up all of the videos on YouTube? Or do they give you copies to do with as you wish? Would be interesting to see how the others do, I think.

  2. They're essential oils. Information about them can be found at this webpage:

    As to the videos, they're all taken on my camera, and uploaded to my Youtube account. I'd have to ask permission from the other students to get some footage of their dogs.

  3. Hey, thanks. :D

    Ah, gotcha. I was under the impression the trainers were filming and then either posting the videos or providing copies to those in the class. Still cool nonetheless!

  4. Nope, I'm the only obsessive one. ;)