Monday, October 4, 2010

Nosework Training Week 1 and Class 2

This week I decided to try all the dogs with our beginning nosework exercises. The object of the game is teaching the dogs to search independently by using several cardboard boxes, one of which has treats hidden in it. Once the dog finds the box with the treats, you're supposed to feed additional treats with their head in the box for several seconds--I think this has something to do with linking a new scent to the treats later, or something.

This week, I played with gradually spreading the boxes out to cover more space in the room, as well as partially covering the treat box. We practiced three days this week.

After week 1, Elo is the best searcher! He is methodical and meticulous and loves the game! It was hard to stump him, and he got farther than the others. Last night I was completely covering the treat box with another box and did two successful hides that way!

Lok is the second-best searcher, impeded ironically by his lack of sight. The boxes are not helping him at all. He trips over them and gets frustrated. But over the past week he has gotten better at working slowly and methodically and feeling his way around the room. Two of his hides last night took longer than usual and he didn't lose patience. I spread the boxes out pretty far, but did not cover the treat box for Lok.

Jun is very enthusiastic, of course, but lacks patience, as with everything. If she doesn't find the treats within 5 seconds, she just picks up boxes and throws them around. However, she IS great at sniffing and finding in general--the boxes just slow her down and get in her way.

Class 2!!
Not too much different from class one. Still just teaching them to search independently, which is the most important part--not looking to us for hints or direction or confirmation. We spread out the boxes more, and it's a pretty big room. Lok is kind of disadvantaged, but also kind of ahead of the other dogs out of necessity. The other dogs only have to go to each box and check it. Lok has to FIND the boxes first, and then check them! He was doing great--I was so proud! He was checking out the perimeter of the room, checking corners, even thoroughly checked out the bathroom that is attached to the training room! He didn't give up and after a couple minutes he found what he was looking for. And most importantly--he didn't look to me for a hint even once! His third search he found the treats quicker and it was cool because you could tell he had the scent when he was about 5 feet away from the box the treats were in and was really following his nose! I was proud!

So this week, we work on spreading the boxes out more, and covering boxes so the scent is not so easy to find. Next week we start adding some elevation, and more obstacles in the search area.


  1. Laughing at Jun. That would be if I were her. Go Elo. What are you covering the boxes with? You don't think the covering helps identify the treat box? I want to try this next rainy day we get!

  2. Covering boxes with other boxes--sorry, that wasn't clear. Just stacking them a little, so the opening is partially to fully covered, depending on how difficult you want to make it. The boxes are open to start with.

    With Elo, I'm putting a larger box completely over the treat box. Makes the scent harder to find. With the other dogs, just stacking, so there is a slight opening for the scent to come out of.

    You'd think it might help them identify the treat box, but so far that hasn't happened with mine or any in the class. Maybe because they are more focused on their noses than their eyes? Also, all of my boxes are different and you only put treats in one box, yet they still sniff all of them, even the ones that are clearly bigger, smaller, different shape, or different color.

    You should definitely try it! It's not even really training--more facilitating something that the dogs already know how to do! And once they realize they are ALLOWED to sniff stuff and you're not going to say anything to them, they really get into it!