Saturday: Nose Work Training

 

In the Nose Work Challenges 1 class I’m taking from Fenzi Dog Sports Academy we’re doing some fun exercises with extreme aged hides-hides aged 24 or more hours. This presents a challege due to the scent diffusing into the room. I set up the next hide in my jewelry making room. I have one hide each of birch and anise. I’ve positioned them so they will definitely create a converging odor puzzle for Jack.

Besides aging for 24+ hours, what will make this hide situation challenging for Jack is the heat from the sun coming in the window. That will activate the odor-it will rise in the heat from the window. There is also an HVAC vent on the floor just left of the anise hide under the jeweler’s bench. imageSince it’s summer, cool air is coming from the vent. I’m very interested to see what happens to odor.

Anyway, tomorrow afternoon, we’ll see how Jack does in this search. I hope I remember to video.

 

Friday Favorites

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I love working with and training dogs. But the past year and a half I haven’t worked with ours much. It’s showing. Sometimes things in life require attention, and that’s been the case for me. But now that life is normal and okay and good, it’s time to get back to working with the dogs.

What I think I love most about working with dogs is the relationship, the teamwork. Just think about it-another species of intelligent animal wants to engage with humans in work and play. Blows me away!

I also love watching dogs figure things out. I particularly love scent detection work. Watching a dog find scent, then follow it to source, then tell his handler, “Hey, it’s here. It’s right here” fills me with wonder every time.

Below is a video of one of my favorites of Jack’s searches from Nose Work class from May 2013. This was a tough hide, but he worked hard, never gave up, and found source.

Let’s Go Sniff

Y’all know by now I’m enamored of all things canine scent detection. Nose Work, Barn Hunt, Tracking, Earth Dog-yep all of it.

So I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve let Jack’s Nose Work training slide over the winter. All kinds of excuses slithered across my brain. Too cold. Too tired. Too much trouble with all three dogs. Not fair to work with Jack, but not do something with the other two. Too hurried.

Yeah, you get what I’m saying.

I even used the excuse that I’m not going to trial him in Nose Work so why bother training. Yep, yessiree, I even used that gem.

And while that’s true-I will likely never trial in Nose Work-that’s no reason not to train. Especially not when Jack and I both love it. Well, maybe he enjoys it, and I love it.

So yesterday I broke out the birch, and we did a little work outside. Vehicles and exterior.

And, bonus! I used my GoPro with my new chest strap mount. Learned a lot from that exercise. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyhoo-here are two very, very short clips from yesterday’s work. These are the “source/alert” moments from two of the searches.

Two things I learned from yesterday’s video are: 1) you can learn A LOT from videoing your training sessions, and 2) Jack’s tail is part of his tell.

Less Whiny Follow Up

After whining yesterday and most of today I decided to stop. Seriously, whining not only sounds stupid, it solves nothing. Instead I’m going to list a few things to work on so that a year from now I will not be stuck in the same whiny head space I’m in now. Fair? 

1) Get back to consistent Nose Work training at home. (Get back to Nose Work class this spring.)

2) Seriously work on Jade’s reactivity to other dogs so that next year we can foster.

3) Do an intro to agility class with Jack to see if we both really want to do it.

4) Seriously ramp up my chainmaille skills with an eye toward craft shows the second half of the year.

5) Figure out if my back will let me continue running or if I need to find another exercise. This one truly, truly, seriously sucks, but I have to face the reality that my back may never get better. And if this is as good as it’s going to get, the pounding of running is not a good thing. I do not want to deal with this, but I have to, and it really pisses me off. 

6) Start the process of starting a shelter Nose Work program at MACC if management there is agreeable.

So, first step of #1-clean out the garage so I have a reasonable space to train Nose Work. Will begin that tomorrow. 

Accountability? Yeah, need that. So, every Monday I’ll report in. 

And no whining allowed.

When My Dog Became More Than “My Dog”

I’ve been trying for a week to figure out how to articulate something I’m sure many other dog people have experienced.  I’m equally sure many of those people have explained the phenomenon much better than I ever will.

But here goes.

Something shifted in my relationship with Jack last Sunday. I can tell you the exact moment it happened, though I didn’t realize it until a couple of hours later. The shift was subtle, but also paradigm shifting for me.

He became my partner, my true friend, a piece of me.

I know that sounds over the edge for lots of people, even people who love animals. But something shifted as I crossed the start threshold with him at the ORT. We became more than just handler and canine. We became a team. He understood what I asked him to do, and he did it. Willingly. With joy. I watched him work that hide in awe of his abilities, knowing I had to trust him completely to show me where it was, and that he would show me.

We communicated.

More than just me reading his alert.

I asked him to do something.

He agreed to do it.

He gave me information.

I understood what he told me.

A team. A partnership. A friendship truly from the heart.

 

Post ORT Report

So the comedy of the absurd continued the week before the ORT.

Friday the 6th I got off work and realized the middle toe of my right foot hurt really, really bad. As in I could barely walk. As in someone released a horde of fire ants on my toe.

Got home from work, took off my shoes and socks. Yep, infected at the site of my self-surgery. Three days prior I removed the corner of my toenail because frankly, it annoyed me growing into the edge of my toe.

The morning of Saturday, September 6 revealed a toe in dire need of antibiotics. So off to the Minute Clinic we went.

Fast forward five days, one Z-Pack, one more self-surgery to lance the infected area and toe is all better.

Now on to the ORT yesterday.

WE PASSED WE PASSED WE PASSED WE PASSED WE PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It totally rocked-even before we passed. What a community dog people create. Just amazing atmosphere.

We ran third in the first group for birch. I think that was the perfect running place. Not first, but not late in the order.

Now on to training for Nose Work 1 trial.

Countdown to ORT: Day 19

The members of the NACSW discussion group are a great bunch of folks. I sent out a plea for advice yesterday to help me deal with my nerves over the upcoming ORT. I’ve been overwhelmed by the thoughtful, supportive responses.

I kept tonight’s practice pretty short-only three searches with one hide each. Also kept them simple. We stopped with Jack almost begging to keep working.

To watch some advanced K9 Nose Work teams and see what it’s all about check out posts on the K9 Nose Work Blog here, here, here, and here.

Just amazing!

Countdown to ORT-Day 20

HOLY FREAKING COW…IT’S ONLY 20 DAYS TO OUR FIRST ORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay…big deep breath…that helped…one more….

Minor freak out today when I realized it’s only 20 days until mine and Jack’s first ORT (Odor Recognition Test). No biggie, right? Just my very first dog sport event as a handler EVER!

One more big deep breath…

Thankfully I’m getting some great advice from other Nose Work handlers as well as handlers in other dog sports. Most folks are only too happy to share their experiences and let me learn from their mistakes and near misses.

The bottom line: relax and have fun, Jack doesn’t care if we pass, fail, win, lose, place first or come in last. All he knows is he’s playing a game with his human. And, at the end of the day I get to go home and play more games with this awesome dog who brings me joy.

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Nose Work

I’m thinking of doing some nose work classes with Jack. There are classes locally at Leaps and Bounds Agility. The owner/trainer invited me to observe a class before participating. She seems very enthusiastic. She also has a border collie who is the same age as Jack, who she has trained to do nose work.

Anyone familiar with this training center or with doing nose work classes?