|Ollie's nose leading him to the target odor|
|Poppy using the wall to help her pinpoint the location of the scent|
|Cotton swab with birch oil|
The main thing to keep in mind when working with odor is that you want to be careful when handling the oil or anything that comes in contact with the oil. You do not want to confuse your dog by contaminating areas of your house, or other places your dog may frequent, with birch scent. Disposable gloves are essential. You may want to use a set of tweezers to handle the Qtips when taking them out of the jar and placing them in the hide container and vice versa. Do your prep in an area with access to hot water and hand soap and wash your hands thoroughly, even when gloved, after handling the odor article. Dispose of gloves and anything else not to be put back in storage by placing them in a ziplock bag and throwing them in an outside garbage can in an area your dog does not have regular access to or by placing them in the freezer until trash day.
|Supplies for preparing odor search: disposable gloves, odor-treated cotton swabs, a search container & hand soap|
|2 Containers: tube with hole in cap & metal tin|
My personal favorite container is the screw top tin. It has a powerful little magnet inside so I can stick the container to anything metal - door hinges, heating grates, appliances, dog crates, etc. I love it!
|metal tin with holes in lid|
|magnet & swabs in tin bottom|
|Magnetic tin stuck to heating grate|
We started the transition to working with odor by going back and working with searches in cardboard boxes and pairing the odor with food. The food was placed just in front of the container holding the odor, so that when the dog found the food it would take in a whiff of the odor at the same time and start to associate the birch odor with the food reward. When rewarding the dog with additional treats upon the find, those treats would be thrown in the box as close to the odor as possible or by offering the treats to the dog by placing your partially closed hand directly in front of the container so that the dog is taking large whiffs while getting the reward. Once the dog associates the odor with the reward, you can start placing a hide or two using odor only and not pairing with food at the very end of your practice sessions. You need to be VERY quick in delivering your rewards for finds at this stage. Once you are getting good response to the odor only searches, you can start doing less pairing and more odor only searches.
|Poppy locked in on the odor with her nose|
Here is Ollie doing some odor only searches with the magnetic tin:
And Poppy doing the same:
Here is Poppy again, showing some real nose work sleuth work when trying to locate the odor underneath a blanket draped over the metal chair that the magnet is stuck to:
I hadn't ventured outside for any odor searches yet, but decided at the end of Poppy's session last Saturday to give it a try just to see how she'd do. There was a breeze, which made it somewhat challenging. It took her a little longer than the interior searches we've been working on, but she did succeed!
As you can tell from their enthusiasm while working and the smiles on their faces, Poppy and Ollie both love nose work. I strongly encourage anyone to give this activity a try with their dog. It is immensely rewarding to see your dog hone its strongest innate ability and work at something with so much joy!
We started back up with class tonight by doing some mock odor recognition test (ORT) runs on closed containers. So look for more nose work posts in the future as we work toward the ORT and then getting ready to compete in nose work trials.