Metal article progression

Wow, how is it December already?!? While I can not say we have done our scent-a-whirl every day over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Kazee has been progressing steadily with his understanding of the metal article game.

The last blog post on November 12th showed Kazee’s first day with one metal article in a covered bin (the other three bins are empty). While this seemed VERY easy for him, I had to force myself to keep him at this step for awhile to make sure he was using his nose (and not his ears) to find the correct bin. Between a breed show and the holiday, he was at this step a little longer than I had planned. Oops!

On November 25th, Kazee did his first scent-a-whirl with a metal article in every bin. To minimize any fresh scent, I placed the three unscented articles in their bins the night before. Remember, the scented article ONLY goes into the MARKED bin. Make sure you scent the article each time you place it into the bin. You want your dog looking for YOUR scent, not his own.

I was really not sure how much Kazee was actually using his nose. In the beginning, I think he was going purely off of the sound of something being inside the bin. And, the barking…oh my. Can anyone guess what else I need to work on? Is this what my Sheltie friends feel like?

Fast forward to today…TEST DAY for the metal articles! The last couple of days, I have switched to a food reward, in an effort to bring down the energy level a little bit. Kazee has a tendency to sometimes be frantic in order to earn his tug and the barking was starting as soon as I told him it was time to play the “find it game”. I am glad he was enthusiastic, but geez. :/

I was expecting errors today and I got some. Hopefully, including these errors on the above video will help you see how you can maybe handle them with your own dog. Honestly, I was starting to get a little nervous and wondered if I took the lids off too soon. I can happily report that the lightbulb did come on!

You will notice that I did touch some of the incorrect articles while working with Kazee. When I was newer to Utility, I was very careful to NEVER touch anything. I placed and picked up articles with metal tongs, I carefully aired everything out before using it agin, I washed all articles before trials. Did it work? Yes, it did, but it was also completely unnecessary. I want my dogs to find the hot, fresh scent…not just ANY scent. All of my dog gear, including all of the articles, have my smell on them; and the dog may as well start differentiating the correct scent right away. This does not mean I place all of Gunner’s articles in the pile by gripping the bars. I simply dump them on the ground and reposition them by the ends. After he is finished with articles, I pick all the articles up by their ends and toss them in the bag. The used, scented articles are then lightly misted with 99% isopropyl alcohol before tossing them into the bag. The next time I do articles, I try to use a different number. But, every dog is different and you need to figure out what works best for YOUR dog.

Train harder, but play harder!

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2 thoughts on “Metal article progression

  1. Sharon Walker

    I work with Iva, my GSD, in scent work. I have only used one scent in each exercise, although several locations have that fresh scent. I do designate certain containers to hold the scent while others are always “clean”. She has learned that she is to find the “strongest” scent as there will be residual scent from previous practice runs. She will pause at the lingering odor sometimes but she doesn’t signal until she has found the new strong odor. I’ve now increased it to 2 or sometimes 3 hides and simply give her the command AGAIN. I’m not sure that made any sense but she absolutely loves this game.

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    1. Yes, I’ve completely broken Kazee’s articles back down to a Nosework type of “game” (not using the scent-a-whirl). It is actually impossible for him to be incorrect. If he indicates the wrong bin, I simply ignore it. I’ve seen his confidence come back up and he immediately goes back to work. I’m not worried about time frame, I want a happy, confident working dog. So, we will see how he progresses. I have new videos, but waiting for us to get a couple of steps into the progression before I worry about posting anything.

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