|Instructor, Barb Davenport loads the mason jars along the fence-line|
Basic scent work does not require any fancy equipment. Although you can invest in a scent box, a dozen plastic flower pots, a new paint can, cotton balls, glass mason jars and essential oil (we used clove) should do the trick. Tongs and and surgical gloves are also helpful to avoid contamination.
To begin with, each dog was evaluated for ball/toy drive (read ball/toy crazed). Working detection dogs need to have a great deal of drive to endure long, potentially boring searches all for the love of a ball or toy reward. Food can also be used but can be less practical for use in certain situations in the the field. There were Briards, Border Collies, German shepherds, and cattle dogs participating in the class and all passed this initial test.
At first several pots are lined up along a fence or wall including the scented pot. Since the exercise is done on leash, having the pots against a fence or wall helps to keep the dog from wrapping around the pot and knocking it over. The handler then leads the dog down the line of pots, "presenting" or inviting the dog to smell each pot and telling the dog to "find it" or "search it". When the dog reaches the scented pot, the ball or toy is immediately deployed as a reward. In subsequent tries, additional "blank" pots are added up to a total of five plus the one scented pot. The scented pot is also moved to a different place in the sequence. Each time the handler "presents" each pot and the dog is immediately rewarded for indicating the scented pot with the ball or toy. Clear indication is determined by the nose dipping below the rim of the correct pot. It is important to wait for the dog to clearly indicate so that the dog learns to pinpoint the source of the odor. Whether you want your dog to be employed in law enforcement or search for truffles, pinpointing the source is essential.
In the next exercise, the pots were moved to a new location, still in a line but no longer against a fence. Again the handler "presents" each of six pots and the dog is rewarded for indicating the correct pot. In the third exercise, the pots are placed randomly in an area roughly 100' x 100' and again the same presentation, indication and reward sequence is followed. By this point in the seminar, Demi and Nash have worked through each exercise a couple of times and are clearly indicating the odor.
|Demi is in the scent cone working to the source|