Chandler and I have returned to Nosework classes! The local training center decided to schedule some Sunday night classes, which works with my schedule. I jumped at the opportunity because I felt like Chan had essentially been "going to seed" for the past year or so. As a working dog breed, it is important that Chan has an outlet for his instincts, and Nosework is a great way to channel his talents. This class was being run by the other Nosework instructor, Tricia, and as she has been involved in Search and Rescue for almost a decade, I was hoping to learn a lot from her perspective on training.
As it turns out, our Nosework II class is full of shepherds- only all the rest of them are of the German variety. Strictly speaking, it is a small class. There is Chandler and I, another lady and her very nice female German Shepherd, and the assistant instructor with her four German Shepherds. The assistant instructor has competed in Shutzhund, and very helpfully instructed me in some ways I can keep Chan better focused and motivated.
Chandler was very happy to be back in class, and even whined eagerly at the beginning of his first run.
He kept up that excited rush all night; hopefully he will soon calm down and work more systematically. After looking at the video, I think he slows down immediately after he passes the correct box and circles back after checking out the last two boxes and the camera. I think there is a good chance he knew that was the correct box. Tricia said he was a good worker with plenty of drive for the job. I had emailed her about his problems getting distracted on course, and her opinion is that he clowns around because he does not want the game to end. Accordingly, my assignment is to work on his toy motivation so he can get a bigger "jackpot" after the find.
Overall, it was a really great class, and I learned a lot:
1. The motion a dog makes as he passes by a hide and then whips his head around as he catches the scent is called a "hook"
2. I can't keep Chandler is a room close to the training area because he is a horrible mama's boy and cries like a baby when he's crated and separated from me. (So embarrassing; I need to work on crating skills.)
3. Dogs like to step on the boxes because this squeezes the scent out with the air.