Delilah’s nosework class started last night.
I was anxious, as I always am going into a new class. There is a whole new dynamic of dogs to get used to, not to mention their owners.
Truthfully most dog owners I’ve taken classes with are pretty clueless.
The first clue I had that there might be trouble was the three people with their dogs standing smack in the middle of the path to the entrance.
I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and took the long route around. By the time I got to my destination, two of them had moved into the building.
One of them, took a seat right in front of the door. With her slightly excited Goldendoodle. (Okay, I’m guessing it was a Goldendoodle, I’m not really sure, I do know she was excited though.)
Ariane was near the door and I said to her, I can’t get by that dog.
Thankfully Ariane asked the woman to step aside for a minute so I could get inside.
Since this was the first week, we used the same box for each dog, because we didn’t want all the boxes to smell like food and confuse the dogs. Yes, in the beginning we are using food because we know that dogs like food and they are self rewarded when they find it.
The harder part is hanging around waiting for our turn and keeping her interested in me.
The second turn we had, all I said was ready? And she lunged for the boxes. Thankfully I’m still hanging on to my winter fat which prevented me from turning into a kite.
Oakley’s companion uses the down time to work Oakley on his other commands. She reinforces front, spin, around, peek-a-boo. I think it’s a great idea, so I started doing that with Delilah too. I really want to teach her peek-a-boo, it’s so cute when Oakley does it.
If you’re interested in learning more about nosework, Donna and the Dogs had a nice post up not too long ago that explained it pretty well, Nosing Around.
This is an easy game to teach your dog providing (s)he is food motivated. It is also very tiring, so on those days when the weather doesn’t cooperate and you need to find a way to tire out your dog, this is your go to game.
- To teach it, start with about 5 boxes of varying sizes.
- The first couple of times you can let your dog watch you place the food, after that, they should be in another room, or distracted by someone else.
- Rev your dog up using an excited voice…..”Are you ready, you ready to go” whatever you use when you are getting your dog excited.
- Then give the cue, I use FIND. You can use whatever makes sense to you.
- Don’t lead your dog, the goal is to let your dog use their nose. Of course, if she veers totally off course, you may want to stroll towards the box, but don’t point to it.
- Once your dog finds the correct box, praise and drop some more treats in there. You want them to really get the idea of what they’re supposed to be doing.
A couple of other tips:
Use one of the boxes strictly for the food, that way the scents don’t get all muddied up and confuse your dog. If you want to make it easier on yourself, mark it food. Your dog can’t read, right?
I’m actually going to put a plate in my box, because of Delilah’s tendency to lick everything.
Keep your dog on leash the first few times, just until they understand the game.
Vary the rooms you use to play this in, you want them to use their nose, not their memory.
Have you ever played this game with your pup? Do you think mental stimulation is as tiring as physical?