Nosework #6 – Thinking outside the box

This was the final night of our first set of sessions. Ranger and I were running late so were only able to pop out for a quick pee before going in and getting ready.

There were only 4 of us there for class tonight so we got in a few searches. Ranger’s first search they used the little holed lid to see how he was doing. He had a little trouble finding it at first, but he circled back and (through I believe the process of elimination) realized which box it was. Did a couple searches mixing them up between on chairs and on the ground which he had no issues with.

His biggest test though was a search with the scent located in a book bag on the ground. The search space had boxes, cones, two bags, a tin, and a couple chairs with items on them. Ranger searched everything and couldn’t find it on the first full spin around; although he definitely was moving in a direction around the bag. He kept checking the boxes surrounded the bag, and I led him away for a couple seconds to let them flip it open a bit and he came back in to find it quite quickly.

You could almost see the light bulb go off in his head as he realized that the scent doesn’t necessarily need to be in a box. That he must check everything in the area to find it.

Note: This class I gave him a drink about halfway through and he downed quite a lot. It goes to show that scent work is a workout for him and I must start offering water after every set of searches.

Also, one of the instructors has offered for us to turn up to class early and work in the obedience class for the last fifteen to start giving him practice for his Canine Good Citizenship test the beginning of August. They’ve also mentioned setting up a search weekend for tracking which I think we’ll attend. Heck, if for nothing else we’ll get to see some good dogs working trails.

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Nosework #5

Didn’t get a lot of practice in between classes as the BF’s dad is here from Holland and I’ve been super busy with the little foster Chico. We did get a couple rounds in at home over the weekend and I headed off to class yesterday with the thought that we wouldn’t get much out of class.

I was wrong lol.

Ranger did fantastic. Our first turn we put food in the box with the wintergreen and he zoomed in and found it almost immediately. Our subsequent turns involved me providing the reward in the box after he picked the right one. There was no box smashing, no frustration, no foolishness. He went out each time with gusto and searched with a good alert at the end.

Our second to last round involved the scent in a box on one of three chairs (there were boxes on the ground and on the other chairs). He found the scent area, but couldn’t figure out it was on the chair so I guided him over to one of the non-scent chair boxes and asked him to check it. Once he realized they were on chairs too he went back and alerted on the correct one.

Last round was a quick one with it back on the floor boxes and he went right in 🙂 So super proud of my boy!

We’ve signed up for the CGN test on August 9th. He shouldn’t have a problem with most things and we’re getting a list of the requirements this week to start working on. We were actually early for class (there is a rally/obedience class put on before us at the same place) and they invited us in to do the long down practice with them. Ranger did a great 30 second down with me beside him, and a fantastic 2 minute down with me standing in front at the end of the lead with the trainer walking around all the dogs.

Nosework #4

Tonight Ranger played with the big boys and we searched for only Wintergreen. His first cycle through he went passed the box and smelled them all before coming back to the scent. The instructor says it’s because he was looking to see which one was different than the rest and he was just making sure.

He did well on his runs, but was less interested in settling between turns. I’m going to bring his mat next week (and water) to let him have his own spot to crash while waiting and see if that helps him.

He did smash one box on a run and turned to see if that would be enough to get him a treat, but we’ve added a verbal “nope” and he’ll move on from it and search out the scent.

Our homework is to keep doing what we’re doing at home to build up habit. We’ll be working on increasing his alert.

They’ve also brought up that they will be holding a Canine Good Neighbour test in the future and asked if Ranger would be interested. Said I’d be up for it, but who knows if Ranger will pass (not sure if his enthusiasm will get in the way). They’ll be going over everything that’s needed to pass and holding a class or two for prep so I said why not?

More things to do with Ranger the better.

Tuesday Ranger got to blow off some steam with his favourite BFF; these two are such monkeys.

two dogs playing

their faces kill me

Nosework #3

At the end of the week Will succumbed to a nasty case of stomach virus which we originally thought was food poisoning…until I came down with it on Sunday at 2am. First time in decades I felt that awful. Ranger spent all of Sunday on the bed with me (or waiting outside the bathroom) and Will had to come get him to make him go potty/eat. If someone had offered to put me down I might have taken them up on the offer, but by Monday I just felt like I was hungover and by the evening I was able to bring Rangerto class.

dog laying on floor

hot dog hunter!

I was worried that he would have forgotten everything since we didn’t get to practice between classes due to everything and I ran him through a hot dog find a couple times in the afternoon before we went.

Class was small since it’s a long weekend and there was only three shepherds, the rotties, and us. One of the gsd has a hard time with Ranger in the class (was attacked by a black dog and fear reacts to him), but Ranger didn’t stare at her and minded his own business.

We did out first set with hot dog in the boxes and then combined it with wintergreen (the first scent we’ll look the trial with…I have no idea how that all works, but I definitely need to research it). Ranger went through the boxes searching and you could see his face wrinkle up at the weird new smell. He wasn’t was interested in eating all the hot dog in the box (I wouldn’t have been either…I could smell it from 5.5 feet higher than Ranger and his nose is way better than mine), but wasn’t put off searching. We then switched to only a piece in the box with the WG and me supplying the reward by hand (but in the box).

Ranger tried to cheat me a couple times over our other runs. He tried signalling on the box where the scent box had been before and smashed a couple boxes. The instructor says that it will happen around this time since they’ve figured out a little of what you’re after and want to see exactly how few steps they need to take for the reward. “Look mum, this is a nice box….treat? No, ok…..”. His end run was great and he sniffed each box before choosing the right one with his nose shoved right in the hole.

Homework this week: 1 piece of hotdog and the WG in the box for searching and reward delivered by hand in the box.

Nosework #2

dog waiting for class

Do I get to hunt hot dogs again?

I know I say this a lot, but damn does Ranger make me look good.

Since last week Ranger had five sessions of hunting hot dogs at home in cardboard boxes. Each session involved three searches with him being tethered in the kitchen while I set up on the living room floor. I wanted a word we could use for only nosework (since search is a common word, and find it is used for his toys) so I decided on “Zoeken” which is dutch for search.

It took probably two or three sessions of homework before Ranger understood what he was supposed to do with our last one around lunch time today.

Well, it seems the homework really paid off.

dog yawning

I just wanna find them!

The instructor send us out with the rubbermaid containers (circular hole cut in the top) before realizing we were the newbies. I had given him the command and he had burst out onto the boxes as she mentioned this might be a bit too difficult for him…not when hot dog hunting is involved! He found the box with the food on his first pass-through. Each set is two searches usually and after our second one they told me I should wait for more of an alert (or interest in the box) before opening it up and giving him the reward.

On the second set he stopped at the box and looked at me, so I asked him to “show me”. Well, Ranger thought I couldn’t understand because he jumped on the box with his front feet and pawed at it while staring me right in the eye…lots of praise for that one! The rest of his turns he took with the same running leap and found the box each time. Super proud doggy mum here (and glad we’re not finding IEDs…or we’d be blown to bits)

dog watching another dog work

taking notes

My proudest moment though was having one of the other people (who works SAR dogs) come over to tell me specifically that Ranger was doing really well, ask his age, and say that it shows we did our homework through the week 🙂 They don’t want to push him too fast so he’ll be on hot dog only for at least another week and then we may try pairing with wintergreen the week after (or the week after that).

Nosework #1

Ranger had his first nosework class last night. There are two shepherds, two rotties, two little terrier things (pretty sure cairn terriers), a min pin, and Ranger. They are hoping to get a couple more newbies signed up shortly so then we’ll divide into two rooms/groups as some of the other dogs are on scent only.

The trainer seems super nice. He is heavily involved in scent detection work and SAR (trains dogs for police, border services, etc has a SAR team that goes throughout Canada and the states). He’s quiet, friendly, and treats every person like it’s a private lesson when it’s their turn. We talked a little about what you can work up to, how to work with your dog, etc and then ran the dogs all through a couple times.

Ranger was fed from one of the boxes and then I held him back while the trainer put more treats in and then ran over to place it with the other 6 boxes. I’m not sure Ranger got the idea of it to begin with, but he found the hotdogs and then we did it again a little quicker. On the second set he actually ran past the box, turned in mid-air as he realized he could smell hotdogs and went back to the class.

The best part? Ranger settled awesome between his turns on the sidelines.

dog laying on floor

the excitement was too much to handle

He whined a little at the other dogs about halfway through, but with a big sigh laid out and waited his turn.

Homework this week: six boxes open one with hot dogs, 2x twice a day. If he picks it up and starts really searching for it, we’re allowed to fold down one of the four flaps but I’m in no hurry to push him.