Monday, March 11, 2013

Shell Games

This weekend I decided to try Monday's hand at nosework. She was a natural (of course, what isn't she good at?!?) and thoroughly enjoyed herself. She's such a goofball.

Who? Me? Get outta here...
After my previous post on nosework I had a few people asking me for advice on getting started. So I filmed Monday's foray into the boxes for entertainment educational purposes. The first time I used 7 boxes and some good stinky treats (Bowers Best Buffalo Bites). She naturally searches the boxes because they are the only thing spread out on the floor. When she first comes into the room, I do make a motion with my arms towards the boxes to greater entice her to look into them. At this point she doesn't get 'the game' but she does start to understand that looking into the boxes gets her treats. Also, each time I take the box away from her to 'hide' it again, I am sticking a new stinky treat in it. You can't really see it in the video so I thought I would make it clear - there is food in the food box each time :).

The second time I brought her out I used 9 boxes. She was catching on to the idea that I was moving around the box that had the food in it, so I needed more options to grab at!! You can see she still focuses on me more than the game at this point because she hasn't grasped the full concept. Right now mom is just throwing around boxes :), but it is building her excitement and value in finding the correct box so it's not important that she doesn't really get it yet.

You also want to keep yourself (as much as you can) from standing right next to the box that has the food and staring at it. Your body positioning and focus will give your dog big clues as to which box has the treat. A lot of times you'll see me moving to the opposite side of the box area, away from the treat box, just to encourage Monday to search the whole area. And to keep from accidently helping her find the box! She needs to realize it's her nose that will find the treat, not mom.

I did 4 sessions of 4 finds each with Monday. In between the sessions, she went out to the car while another dog did her nosework finds. The breaks in the car allow the dog to think about what they just did and to anticipate doing it again. When practicing with your dogs, make sure you keep your sessions short and fun and intersperse them with breaks. The goal is make the hide easy at first, building the dog's confidence and enjoyment of the hunt.

This was Monday after nosework. She worked herself into tired :).

Don't forget - REWARD AT THE BOX!

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