Friday, August 2, 2013

intro to nosework

I signed up for an online nosework class, because I've been having trouble finding one near us that wasn't "obedience" based. I wanted to try something new with Oreo, and our behaviorist recommended nosework.

Fenzi Dog Academy offers many different kinds of classes, by really good instructors, and different pay options as well. If you're a gold level, you pay a lot, but you get to submit videos and ask questions, etc. I opted for "bronze" - since it was the cheapest! I basically get all the instructions, and can watch other people's videos and read comments, suggestions, questions, etc.

This week, we've been working on part one of homework one.

I got this nosework kit from

First, I have to put on rubber gloves! You don't want to contaminate the smell. Then, using tweezers, I have to put q-tips covered in birch scent into a little tiny tin.
Then, you close the tin up and throw out your gloves.
Then, you bring in the dog! 

Put treats in one hand, tin box in the other, and reward the dog when he sniffs the tin hand. 

Sounds easy, right? Maybe for the dog! I have such a hard time coordinating the treats, clicker and tin. You're supposed to reward at the tin, which makes me a clumsy fool, especially since my left hand is basically a rubber chicken.  Dork is me.

Oreo is doing well, but, surprisingly Chewy caught on quicker.   I think that is because I've taught Chewy almost exclusively through shaping.  With Oreo, I used a lot of luring.

If you make it to the end of Chewy's video, it shows him really "getting it".  He stays at the scented hand after he gets a treat, rather than going back to check out the treat hand again.

That's the goal ~ to make the birch scent more valuable that the aroma of the food.

For Oreo's first nose session, he offered me every one of his tricks before he sniffed my hand!  It was cute, but I was beginning to think that mere sniffing wasn't challenging enough for him.  Now, we're making progress though.  Oreo also "gets it" at the end of his video.  I think he's really going to have fun once we get past the basics.

Hopefully, after a few more sessions of this, their noses will be staying on the tin in between treats.  Then, we can move on to part 2.

I know these videos are quite boring, but I thought I'd share them in case anyone was interested, plus, in a few weeks, they will make me feel better to see how far we've come.  Don't feel obligated to watch!


Diana said...

Love that there are online classes !! There are clickers that you can click with your foot, that might help you.

Reilly-Denny Cowspotdogs said...

Can't you train him without a clicker? I have never used one - just teach by words and hands signal - that could be an added challenge - to teach him without the clicker? That is something else you could teach oreo - I taught Reilly sign language and I bet both oreo and chewy could learn that too.

Sara said...

For this, you need the clicker, since you want to mark the correct behavior immediately. I say "yes" too, but you can tell in the video that my "yes" is delayed, while the click is instant.

Oreo does know lots of words, the clicker is just a tool used to teach him initially. Once he "gets it" then I add in the verbal cues.

Lassiter Chase and Benjamin said...

We had to watch the video without sound so it was helpful reading the captions on which hand it was in. Mommy attempted to watch the video in another room- butt us dogs heard your voice and came running. U should give us a cyber treat for that.

Sara said...

*click*, treats for Lassie & Benji!

Dawn said...

I have to watch it without sound too. Katie is off resting on "HER" air conditioner vent...but if she heard Oreo and Chewy she'd be right here joining in. Cool idea. I did not know birch had a smell. We have lots of birch trees in the yard, maybe I'm just desensitized. Good work Oreo and Chewy!! And of course Sara too!

Sara said...

It's a really strong scent...not sure where it really comes from....I'll have to look it up.

Chris and Ricky said...

Very very cool! I had read a little about nosework but never watched the beginning step. Should be fun!

I am still laughing about your left hand being a rubber chicken! So descriptive! Haha!

houndstooth said...

Does Oreo prefer treats over toys? Kuster gets rewarded for using his nose by a game of tug, but he'd rather have that now than treats. When he was little, he would work for treats or toys, but after he got done with teething, he was all about the toys. I can't wait to see how they're doing after a couple of weeks of training!

Caren Gittleman said...

They are NOT boring and you are NOT a dork as you said in the video!
I am just always amazed by your training skills, not to mention the brilliance of your boys!
Please keep the training videos coming!

Big Honey Dog (Honey the Great Dane) said...

Ooh - this all sounds fasincating! If Honey wasn't in her "retirement" now - hee! hee! - and the novel hasn't taken over my life, I would definitely be tempted to try this too!!

You're very good & patient...I have to agree, I love that "light bulb" moment that comes with shaping!