Sunday, September 26, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 3

I fear it has been a busy few weeks, and I am very behind in my Nosework posts; so without much ado, here is week three of "Continuing Nosework".

Run #1

Once again, Chandler seems to be having trouble getting into the groove of things at the beginning of class, so much so that we abort the search and start over from the beginning. I think a number of factors contributed to this problem.

1. Chandler is still distracted by the different dogs in this new class.
2. A totally new search area.
3. Use of the tan boxes rather than the white ones.
4. Background barking from a dog he is unfamiliar with.
5. It was a little windy.

All of this adds up to too many distractions, and Chandler initially can't focus on his job, although he does eventually indicate the hide. If you look at his tail, especially in the first segment, it is waving all over the place. It looks frantic compared to his more usual "happy search" wag. He doesn't seem to settle until after he shakes in the second segment.

Run #2

Whew! My Nosework dog seems to have returned!

Run #3

Yes, Chandler is back on the job. His rapid tail wags may still indicate excitement, but he has more focus, and his tail isn't flailing at the air in all directions.

Run #4

This search had three hides along the building. The one in the plastic hummus container that was hidden on the picnic table was an easy find. Chandler had a little more trouble with the other two. #2 was near the clean up bucket, and the odors of dog waste may have proved distracting, although Chandler seemed to be better at ignoring them than the other students. I think the odor for #3 was flowing along the building; that would explain why Chandler did a lot of sniffing near those dents in the siding.

Run #5

This was another difficult run. The three hides were somewhere around a line of big rocks at the edge of the woods. Not only was there possible "critter" scent to deal with, but the rocks had probably been urine marked by dogs coming off the nearby agility field. I think Chandler did fairly well, despite the distractions. He did pass by one hide, but he found it on the second attempt. I do have to say that I am amused by Chandler's technique for finding the final hide: climb on all the rocks (for the fun of it?) and come down on the scent from above.

Overall this was a tough week. I think a number of factors conspired to make things more difficult for the dogs. Personally, I would prefer to back up a bit and work on Chandler's enthusiasm and focus; once those are solid, then the difficulty and distractions can be raised.

Monday, September 13, 2010


This post is for Ziva, whose puppy photo is posted above. I just found out this morning that she died of some kind of acute illness last year. She was Chandler's sister, although she was from the litter after Chandler's. I feel so sad and sorry for her owners. From what little I know, she had that sweetness of character that is one of the facets of Chandler's complex temperament. I'll be shedding a few tears tonight for this loss that really isn't mine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 2

An additional student showed up for Nosework class this week. The new dog was a gorgeous female German Shepherd that turned out to be a Fidelco dog. Unfortunately, she did not make the cut to be a guide dog because of some hip structure issues, but she was lucky enough to stay with the lady who had been her puppy raiser.

We were outside again this week, as the weather was decent. It was slightly humid, but not horribly hot at the time our class was held. Shade from the training center's trees was enough to keep us comfortable between runs.

Run 1

I think Chandler got distracted by the sound of squealing brakes that was coming from a nearby warehouse. During his fear periods he spent a sizable amount of time being afraid of trucks, forklifts, motorcycles, and things that go "beep" when they back up. After a lot of work and time he is much better, but sometimes my frightened and unsure dog emerges again. That didn't happen here; Chandler's tail remained up and waving, but the noise was enough to make him want to get a good look to determine it wasn't an immediate threat, I think.

Run #2

Chandler says he wants to search the trainer's car. It is just off camera, and he is absolutely certain there is food hidden in it; after all, he can smell the food. Cars are fun to search anyway because interiors sometimes contain squeaky toys. Unfortunately for him, all Nosework searches are done on the exterior of the car, so he never gets to check out the interior. For this particular run, once he is notified that the search area does not include the car, Chan gets to work and finds the scent in the correct box.

Run #3

Yes, that car is still fascinating, but Chandler can be redirected away from it. I can't say quite the same for the grass. I was under the impression that I had a sheep dog, not a sheep, but Chandler seems to be a bit confused on that point. This was a run that had four separate hides along a building. Because of the (apparently succulent) grass, it turned out to be a bit of a struggle. Chandler has always enjoyed a bit of grazing where possible, but I must admit his timing surprised me in this case. Maybe he figured he could eat his grass and get his meatballs too? Given his talents at multitasking, I would not put it past him.

Run #4

While Chandler did very well searching the end of the building despite loud industrial noises (and I am very proud of him for that), the grass turned out to be my new outdoor nemesis. So I took a tip from farmdog training 101 and simply stopped. In farm dog training this usually means that a dog that is not focused on farm chores is tied to a fence where he can watch everything, but is not allowed to participate. Job motivated dogs do not like this. In this case I quietly walked back to the shade, sat at the picnic table, and let Chan watch all the other dogs work. Chandler was less than thrilled. However, when we resumed our search AFTER the other dogs had taken their turns, Chandler ignored the grass and successfully found the hidden scents. Unfortunately, I have no footage of this final search, because my trainer was not prepared to be a cameraman again on short notice.

Overall, this was a mixed week. Chandler is still getting distracted, but in many ways that is typical for him. We also did not get to practice at all during the week, as my job had suddenly become very busy, and I was putting in extra hours.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010