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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking to get into nose work and tracking with my dog, what's the best way to start this with my dog?

Best activities for training and any useful links would be greatly appreciated. This stuff looks like a lot of fun.
 

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Here are a few links to nose works websites, the second I believe is in Canada or lists people that are, and any scent trainers should ideally be able to point you towards a tracking coach or already be one if your lucky.
National Association of Canine Scent Work
K9 NOSE WORK®

I have done basic level nose work with mabel and she's great at it, but I don't have the time or interest so we mostly search for toys or food around the house or in a bunch of boxes laid out at work. She is doing a little bit of lavendar scent as well (it's the only essential oil we had at home)

I started with food hidden in the boxes and putting it up high and low as well as just touching/alerting the box with the lavendar, then I hid the lavendar box with food in with it, after she was consistently finding it, I removed the food and had her searching just for the lavendar, and she would touch it at first and then when I asked "where is it" she stares or glances at it to alert.
Had I been consistent it probly would have only taken a month, but it's been more like 6 lol since I really don't do it often as far as real training, I just have her "search" for her toys.
I may start focusing on it this summer and doing tracks in our back acre at work, she really has the nose for it and loves it so I'm starting to feel guilty for being lazy and denying her the chance at being as good as her daddy is or better. :)

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the idea with the boxes, that's more what I'm talking about at this point. I'm not looking to get into any paid courses or training, just wanna go pick up some containers to stuff, or lay some trails out of a squirt bottle outside, or however it goes. I'm really looking forward to getting started with this.
 

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Np, yea I used old boxes of all sizes, she had to crawl in some and further into her training the small ones where great because they forced her to alert since she couldn't fit her nose in them. We also use egg cartons and all shape and size plastic containers.
I hide her toys outside in bushes and trees and under rocks and she does pretty good provided she doesn't get distracted or frustrated and leave.

When we first started and found the piece of food we would rain down about 6-7 more pieces in the same spot with lost of praise and side pats/rubs. We also only had about 8-10 boxes and added 1-3 more each week. She's searching in about 15-30 right now.
 
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I'm also interested in this, but I want to achieve a few titles before committing to nose work. Right now, I take a tasty treat, drop it on the floor, crush it with my foot and walk around the field. Right now, the track leads him to more treats. Eventually I will pair the treats with a scent and eventually fade the treats out. But I know nothing about nose work, so I'll be joining a club next year when I want to commit to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, here's a question for you guys:

Say you're doing the one using several containers, one of which holds the prize.

If what you want is for him to lay down in front of the correct one, what's the best way to achieve that? What if when he finds the one he starts mauling it or whatever? Would you guys be molding him for the desired behaviour right off the bat?
 

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Okay, here's a question for you guys:

Say you're doing the one using several containers, one of which holds the prize.

If what you want is for him to lay down in front of the correct one, what's the best way to achieve that? What if when he finds the one he starts mauling it or whatever? Would you guys be molding him for the desired behaviour right off the bat?
From what I have read, you don't train for cues, the dog will show his/her unique way of showing. Some will sit, lay down, look at you, paw the area, keep returning to the area, or just stare at the area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
From what I have read, you don't train for cues, the dog will show his/her unique way of showing. Some will sit, lay down, look at you, paw the area, keep returning to the area, or just stare at the area.
Oh, really? Good to know, thanks, DogsR4Life; I suspect Jack will do something like start batting at the container though. I'd rather he do something else, but then again, I'm sort of jumping to conclusions here.
 

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From what I have read, you don't train for cues, the dog will show his/her unique way of showing. Some will sit, lay down, look at you, paw the area, keep returning to the area, or just stare at the area.
We've been training (classes) for over a year now and that is the way we've trained - dog chooses the way to alert. However, most dogs won't alert in the beginning because you let them self-reward at first (eat the treat or grab the toy from the box), so there is no need for an alert. That comes later.

Designate one container for the food (or toy if you prefer) and use about 8-12 boxes. If you want to use a different container on another day, put the first one away so there is no residual odor. Introduce the idea of searching by throwing the treat in the box so the dog will see it and let the dog eat the treat out of the box and praise. Some dogs are afraid to stick their heads in a deep box so this shows them what to do. When you are ready for a search, use a search cue ("find it", "search", "show me") and let the dog self-reward when he finds it. I use really stinky treats in the beginning to make it easier for the dog. As your dog progresses, you can stack the boxes (height) and use more and different containers. We use only boxes in the beginning so the dog associates boxes with the game. Even though the dog gets a reward when he finds the treat, praise and give him a treat at the source (in the box). Later, when you move to scent only, you continue to reward right at the scent.

Eventually, you want to start putting the treats outside the box (next to the box) to introduce interior searches. Continue to move the treat further away from the box to the perimeter of the room. Then move the treats higher off the ground (3 feet or less). When the dog understands the interior search, you can remove the containers from the room for searches but use them once in a while so the dog will search both the containers and the room.

When your dog is pretty solid with those searches, you can introduce odor by pairing the odor with the treat. You shouldn't rush this part of the training before going to scent only (K9 Nosework uses birch for the first scent). By the time the dog is on scent only, they will have figured out a way to alert you to get their reward.

We train for 4 elements: container, interior, exterior and outside vehicles. I have read that it takes about 1 year of training before the average dog is ready for trial.

Have fun and good luck with your training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for that detailed reply!

I was going to use sour cream containers, but do you feel boxes are better for the fact they can go in and get it themselves or do you think the plastic containers are ok too if you dont seal the lid? I suppose it doesn't matter much.

8-12 containers, eh? Why do you feel so many are necessary? Is that standard for K9 Nose Work?
 

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Thanks for that detailed reply!

I was going to use sour cream containers, but do you feel boxes are better for the fact they can go in and get it themselves or do you think the plastic containers are ok too if you dont seal the lid? I suppose it doesn't matter much.

8-12 containers, eh? Why do you feel so many are necessary? Is that standard for K9 Nose Work?
If you don't plan to trial, I don't think it matters what kind of container (or how many) you use. I would leave the lid off when beginning to train because I do think self-reward is important to build confidence and drive for the search.

If you do plan to trial, then I think it would be beneficial to use boxes. At the NW1 trial, there will be 15 - 20 boxes in the room (any shape or size) that they will have to search.

Prior to going to trial, you have to pass an odor recognition test which uses 12 closed cardboard boxes.
 

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Okay, here's a question for you guys:

Say you're doing the one using several containers, one of which holds the prize.

If what you want is for him to lay down in front of the correct one, what's the best way to achieve that? What if when he finds the one he starts mauling it or whatever? Would you guys be molding him for the desired behaviour right off the bat?
I've only recently heard of Nose Work as a competition or hobby, but I have always used the basic idea of it as a game. Dogs love it!

If you allowed them to, the dogs I've played the "find" game with would destroy everything in their path to get to the item. My personal experience was that if you stop the dog from being a demolition machine and get the toy/ball/whatever out of it's hiding place as soon as he starts to tear stuff up, eventually he will begin coming up with his own way of saying "IT'S RIGHT HERE!!!! GET IT OUT FOR ME!!!! NOW!!! GET IT, GET IT, GEETTTT IIIIITTTT OOOOUUTTTT!!!!! At that point, if you want a specific indicator from the dog you simply make him perform the action you want before he gets his ball. (for example when he is barking and spinning in circles in front of the box because you won't let him tear it up, make him platz before you get the item out of the box for him.) It won't take long for the dog to chain the actions together and he will start lying down before you tell him to.

So, no I never tried to mold an indicator right off the bat, I let the dog come up with his own indicator first, then if I want different one I teach it later. Since I never had any rules to follow, I've always been happy with anything that wasn't either destructive or insane non-stop barking.
 
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Scout loves these kinds of games. I don't suspect I'll ever do any formal scent work in my life, but playing hide and seek with specific scents and items is great fun. Scout loves to learn - I think if I could come up with a new trick or skill to teach every single day she'd ask for two, please.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
When your dog is pretty solid with those searches, you can introduce odor by pairing the odor with the treat. You shouldn't rush this part of the training before going to scent only (K9 Nosework uses birch for the first scent). By the time the dog is on scent only, they will have figured out a way to alert you to get their reward.
So how long should I stick with the food reward before I switch to something else (birch) and start treating at source?

I saw this one exercise online where a lady took a tea bag and placed it under a cloth and clicked when the dog put it's nose over the tea bag, then tossed a treat and moved the teabag to another location under the cloth. Would she have had to wave the teabag in front of of the dog's nose in another room before moving to finding it under a rag like this?
 

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Okay, here's a question for you guys:

Say you're doing the one using several containers, one of which holds the prize.

If what you want is for him to lay down in front of the correct one, what's the best way to achieve that? What if when he finds the one he starts mauling it or whatever? Would you guys be molding him for the desired behaviour right off the bat?
Kyrah's default behavior for this was to bow. She just started doing it...bowing and moving her paws in a digging type motion. If I hid the stuffie (I hide those alot we dont really do scents more objects) in a place where she could self reward...I may hold it under the pillow or in that spot until she bows. But she already knew the behavoir and we dont play frequently. I know I should its one of her favorite things to do. I save it more for boring or rainy days.
 

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So how long should I stick with the food reward before I switch to something else (birch) and start treating at source?

I saw this one exercise online where a lady took a tea bag and placed it under a cloth and clicked when the dog put it's nose over the tea bag, then tossed a treat and moved the teabag to another location under the cloth. Would she have had to wave the teabag in front of of the dog's nose in another room before moving to finding it under a rag like this?
I would stick with the food until he is consistent with his finds, then pair it with the smell a few times, then remove it and go from there. I only paired the food and smell 2 instances and she got it from there, she may not have even needed it but I preferred a smoother transition than to just jump and possibly confuse and frustrate her.

In mabels case that is exactly what the "touch the box" training was.
It was her intro to lavendar.
In the above case you don't have to introduce it first, instead they figure out to offer a touch and when it is moved that there is a scent and you have to find it not just touch the rag/box/bowl/etc...Just like for mabel when I took the box away and brought it back I'm asking for a touch on the scent.


As far as your question on his alert signal, it all depends on what he tries to offer and what you want him to do. Mabel tried to scratch at the box at first but I said no so she stopped and stared, so I clicked and had the party and treats, she offered a touch with foot or nose then a sit or stand stare at it from then on. If you want a sit then when you work on touching the scent box/container different spots do it with him in a sit, so he learns that when I find "this" I sit or down or w/e you want to use.
 

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So how long should I stick with the food reward before I switch to something else (birch) and start treating at source?

I saw this one exercise online where a lady took a tea bag and placed it under a cloth and clicked when the dog put it's nose over the tea bag, then tossed a treat and moved the teabag to another location under the cloth. Would she have had to wave the teabag in front of of the dog's nose in another room before moving to finding it under a rag like this?
I've started classes with my 2nd dog now. We started training mid-December and just started pairing with birch about 3 or 4 weeks ago.

As far as how long you pair, it varies with different dogs. They should be pretty solid on their finds before using scent only (during a trial, the dog has 3 minutes for each element search). Many people go back to pairing when their dogs are having problems finding the scent-only hides. As the dogs progress in their training, the scented q-tips are placed inside cabinet doors, desk drawers, etc. and they have to learn to alert very close to the source - like inches away. Sometimes people will continue to pair for outdoor searches and vehicle searches even after they stop pairing for container and interior searches.

You should always praise and treat at the source - even when the dog is self-rewarding on food only searches and paired searches.

There are other things we've learned such as never pull your dog off the scent and don't use obedience commands once your dog has started a search. For example, don't tell your dog to sit, lie down, stay, etc. during the search.
 

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I'm a bit late in responding haha. What kind of scenting are you trying to train for? My dobe is trained in tracking and narcotics detection, and my mal is trained in narc and SAR. But they all take different types of training, even at basic levels. You're also training for different scents with each one. If you could elaborate on what you plan on getting into, I can go into more detail. To explain each one right now would be a 3 page post! haha =)
 

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I'm a bit late in responding haha. What kind of scenting are you trying to train for? My dobe is trained in tracking and narcotics detection, and my mal is trained in narc and SAR. But they all take different types of training, even at basic levels. You're also training for different scents with each one. If you could elaborate on what you plan on getting into, I can go into more detail. To explain each one right now would be a 3 page post! haha =)
Im willing to listen and read if you have the time this has really interested me! :)
 
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