Class Clown

I recently mentioned that Delilah and I had once again started scent training.  This is something we do for fun, to challenge Delilah and keep her brain busy.

Our first class was called Beginning Nosework.  In this class we used only food for our ‘finds.’  It worked like this.  Our instructor Arianne, placed about 10 empty boxes on the floor.  One box was the food or ‘find’ box.  (It’s important to always use the same box for food as eventually the box will begin to smell like food.)  While we distract our dogs she hides the food and then we psyche our dogs up to go and find it.

It’s like Hide ‘N Seek for dogs. Sort of.

This time around we are taking Advanced Nosework.  This means our dogs already know the ‘game’ and now we are going to begin transitioning them from food to other scents.  The first scent we are working with is birch, we use birch because it has a very strong, distinct odor.   I have a half a q-tip with a drop of birch on it and I placed this inside a 4 oz jelly jar.  I had Hubby punch a bunch of holes in the lid.  Most people use small tins to hold the q-tip, but I like the jelly jar for right now as it’s too big for Delilah to eat.

I can’t imagine how much it would cost to remove a tin from her stomach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You can see the container in the upper left section of the bicycle wheel.

We are in our third week of a six week course and right now we are still pairing the food with the birch.  Arianne will take the birch container and place a couple bits of our food on it.  She hides them together and we encourage our dogs to find it. When they do, we reward them with more food.

Typically when we work we stand on the side of the room and when it’s our turn, I ask Delilah if she’s ready and then I tell her to find it.  I will then drop the leash and she will make a bee-line for boxes.

She knows how and loves to play this game.

Last night there were only two of us in class.  The other handler has great control over her dog.  He’s a beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback named Oakley.  When he’s ready to work she removes his leash and he runs right over to start his search.

I figured it was a small class so I’d try un-clipping Delilah.

You see where this is going right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our find was somewhere in this mix of obstacles.  You will notice I say obstacles because as the dog becomes more comfortable with boxes, other items (as well as height) are added.

Delilah is sitting in front of me like an angel dog.  I say, are you ready?  Go find it!  And I un-clip her leash.

Like an runner dashing off the line when the starter’s pistol signals, Delilah is off.   Instead of running for the search course, she runs directly over to Arianne’s box of goodies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hmmm, there’s a lot of high value treats in here.  A lot better than that stuff she’s feeding me from Trader Joe’s.

I call her.  And call her.  And call her some more.  She ignores me.  I go up to her and clip her leash on and lead her back to our place on the side and we try again.

Right back to the treats!

This really had Arianne interested.  She was determined to figure out why Delilah reacts this way off-leash.

Luckily for me, Arianne had a few tricks up her sleeve, which I will share in another post as this one is getting quite long.

I shall just assure you that by the last search of the night, I was indeed un-clipping Delilah’s leash and she was running directly to the search area.


Do you have a Delilah?  A Dog that dances to her own tune?  It’s one of the many things I love about this dog.

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  1. says

    Wow, if I didn’t know better, I would wonder if Delilah had been conversing with Shiva. This is exactly what Shiva did for two straight years in agility class and still does every time we attempt a trial or fun match. After trying every trick in my tool box and all of my trainers’ tool boxes, I’ve just about given up. So you better believe I am dying to know what solved the problem for Delilah! Teeeellllllll meeeeeeeee!

  2. says

    Haha, yes, this has totally happened in all of the classes I’ve taken Riley to (although it surprisingly usually isn’t Riley going for the food!). It does make sense that in a NOSEwork class, the dog would follow her nose to the best smelling thing in the room–the trainer’s bag full of goodies! Can’t blame her one bit! It does make for a funny story though (and I, too, will be interested to see what the solution was!).

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. says

    Yummy treats are better than meh treats. Let’s face it. Mom took me to a nose work workshop, and they had MEATBALLS!! I did great finding them. Meatballs. Mmmmm.

    Love and licks,

  4. says

    Delilah’s no dummy! Our beagle would have done exactly the same! She was Miss “You’re Not the Boss of Me!”. Miss that girl. She definitely danced to her own tune, like Delilah!

  5. says

    We are excited to start nosework this winter. Bailie had similar issues to what you are describing in puppy kindergarten. We will see how obedience one goes. Katie was asked to leave agility after the second class because she was out of control and wouldn’t listen…just wanted to play with other dogs, so no worries, we all have our issues!

  6. says

    “This really had Arianne interested. She was determined to figure out why Delilah reacts this way off-leash.”

    Did you mention to Arianne that Delilah is a LAB? LOL!

  7. says

    LOL well if it smells good go for it …… well that is what we would do. Can’t wait to read about what tricks Arianne had up her sleeve.
    Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. says

    You know that I did have a dog just like your girl Delilah, and since I no longer do, I remember her through your girl–What fun this class is, our girl Rudi would have loved it too, and I think would have rivaled Delilah in the class clown category! :-)!!

    ·´¸.·´¨) ¸.·*¨)
    (¸.·´ (¸.·´ .·´Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  9. says

    Kol flunked out of Advanced Nose Work. Turns out, while he has an incredibly large interest in finding foodables and an incredibly non-exist interest in finding the smell of birch, anise or clove. *non-existent* That being said, I think Delilah is a smart gal! Who wants to scent for birch when you can find a whole bag of TREATS?!

  10. says

    You have to admit it’s a very intelligent thing for Delilah to do–go right to the high value, easy to find treats. You can’t fault her for efficiency. :)

    Honey enjoys the search so much that saying “find it” gets her sniffing immediately. It wouldn’t occur to her to do anything but search for the hidden treat.

    But I sometimes wonder if she’s the nerdy kid in class that every hates for showing off. While Delilah is the cool kid everyone likes to hang out with in the smoking area. :)


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