Instructor: Laura Waudby
There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.
Registration will begin at 12:00 Noon Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
This class will lay out a plan for teaching scent articles. Step-by-step, it will guide those who have not yet begun training and for those stuck on how to progress.
We will discuss using a food based method to kick start the dogs' learning that it is a scent based activity and how to quickly fade the food as a prompt. Common problems in teaching articles will be discussed, from freezing over the pile to grabbing the first one they come across. If your dog has already started scent articles using a different method, we can discuss a plan for getting you back on track with the method you're currently using, or try and pick a method that will work best for your dog. (Note the lectures will discuss a food association method of teaching articles if you are interested in a free shaping approach I recommend taking Obedience Skillbuilding 1 instead.)
While a retrieve will eventually be needed for the full scent article exercise, it is not necessary to begin this class. Those dogs without a retrieve and dogs who tend toward grabbing behaviors will be taught to indicate their choice with a sustained nose touch to a flat metal/wood/leather item. In fact, most dogs I strongly recommend training with a flat article so we can separate out the act of scenting from the act of retrieving.
The full progression to scent article training from step 1 to the full formal exercise with a retrieve will be discussed in the lectures. However, students who are starting at step 1 should not expect to completely master all the exercises and games in the 6 weeks.
Here is recent team Sue and Brinkley showing their progression from this class!
The level of experience with Gold handlers will determine the schedule for lecture releases. However, this will still be a front loaded class- all lectures will be released within the first 4 weeks so that teams who already have a solid start to article training can progress to the next step. Dogs brand new to articles will be moved slowly at their own pace.
-Overview of Common Methods
- Basics of a Food Based Method: 7 steps
- How to reward, how to handle mistakes
- How to switch to a retrieve alert from a nose touch alert
- How to introduce new materials for the dog to scent
- Problem Solving- Franticness and Grabbing
- Problem Solving- Looking for Help
- Multiple games to build confidence and add challenges
- Formality: Working on Added distance, turns to the pile, the final picture
Dog of all levels are invited to train! Even puppies can learn how to find our scent! A retrieve is not a requirement and we will talk about training a duration nose touch as an indication.
Before the class starts I will release the pre-lecture on training a duration nose touch to a lid. It is highly recommended that this training is started before class so that we can get started on scent training right away. Even dogs who already have a retrieve will want to teach the nose press in case the dog is better suited for that style of alert.
Approximate Time Devotion: This is a single topic class with not much time needed. However consistent practice is crucial for scent articles more so than with other behaviors. To make the most progress you should be able to have 1-2x sessions at least 4 days a week. Each session should be from 30sec-3min in length.
Equipment needed: Minimum of 6 metal items and 6 wood or 6 leather items.
Ideally, all students will be prepared with 6 identical "flat' items such as canning lids or metal electrical plates (great for "enthusiastic" dogs or dogs retrieve obsessed). Leather strips can be used as well as wooden coasters.
For dogs who progress to adding in a retrieve, any identical items can be used. They do not need to be traditional scent article dumbbells. Many dogs prefer starting out with wide mouth canning rings for metal. Leather bracelets and leather baby shoes are also common.
Empty Altoids tins or similar small metal containers (search Amazon!) may also be recommended for some dogs struggling with fading the food help.
Smearable food will be used in the beginning such as peanut butter or cheeze whiz.
Your dog is ready to work on doing their indication when you feel that:
- Your dog understands there is food out there to find and is continuing to search even if they don't find it on the first lid they see. You can have 4 articles in the pile. (Very few reps of frantically alerting or just staring at you)
- You're using just a tiny smear of food that the dog can lick off quickly
- Your dog is starting to offer a little bit of waiting at the correct article after you reward them. Once they find the article, lick the food, you reach into reward. Can you also take your reward hand away just for a second and then immediately reach back into reward without your dog trying to quickly leave to search for more food???
Here Splash does not quite meet the above criteria. He's pretty good about searching for the correct lid, but as soon as my reward hand goes away he leaves to either search for more food or to run back to his platform. There are a few tiny signs he's starting to :
I show 4 reps in the above video with Splash. The first one was the best where he did show signs of waiting. The 3rd and the 4th rep he starts out being able to wait but it isn't quite cemented in his brain yet that it pays!
For some dogs, you can be at step 2 on their second session. For other dogs, they may not be ready until after a week of training. If your dog isn't meeting the prerequisites for this stage after a week of training then we may need to look at some way to help their understanding of either continuing to search for food or waiting at the article. We don't want to spend too long on just teaching your dog to find food and lick it!
Possible ways to help your dog will be getting rid of the platform/mat you have your dog wait on between reps if it's starting to suck your dog back to it too early. Or do a lot of review of doggy zen type games/ slow cookie delivery where your dog practices freezing in place while a cookie is delivered to them. Practice this away from the article pile so that it is hopefully strong in their mind before going back to the articles.
Asking for an Indication or Getting an Offered Indication
As your dog is licking, keep praising your dog and deliver a single cookie. Now pause. Hopefully your dog will continue to wait at the article as they have been used to doing. At this point you can verbally cue your dog to do their nose touch (or retrieve if that's the route you're going.) You may need to reach your hand and point at the article so your dog doesn’t accidentally indicate an article nearby.
With some dogs who have a very strong offered chin rest/nose touch/retrieve you can try just pausing briefly to see if they can offer the behavior. If your dog understands the zen keeper game you might even show your dog your closed fist of cookies as a hint to offer a behavior!
During the first few lessons, it’s ok to accept an abbreviated version of the indication you have taught. For a retrieve, your hand can be right there to reward just a small hop of the item off the floor. For a nose touch, a quick head dip is OK. Baby steps!
Here is Splash's first lesson on learning an indication. He does a pretty good job! You can see that while he's offering a chin rest he's not really focusing on doing it to the correct lid. If he does it to a cold lid I just put the cookie back on the hot article. Having the articles further apart than I had them could have possibly prevented this problem:
This is Zumi learning to do a nose touch after she licks food off lids. She wasn't quite solid on staying at the lid waiting for cookies (instead of investigating the pile again) and it shows in the added difficulty I had in getting her to do an indication. You can see I am still picking the lid off the floor after she finds it in order to help Zumi do her nose touch. I really have to work hard in this first rep to get her to focused on the correct lid and not reexplore! You will notice I also want Zumi to get in multiple rounds of nose touch=cookie before moving onto the next repetition. And finally see how I immediately lure her out of the pile as soon as I'm done so that she doesn't have a chance to make a mistake while I'm setting up for the next rep:
This is Shock who is still in the process of learning a retrieve. Nancy has been asking Shock to bite it after finding it and on this attempt Shock actually offers biting after first getting a reward for finding and licking off the food (ideally her reward should have been right at the article, not Shock turning her head up and away from the article to eat). Nancy then forgets to lure Shock’s nose away from the pile and Shock gets the opportunity to retrieve the wrong article:
As you progress in your training you continue praising as the dog licks the food, but drop that initial reward at the lid before the dog does the indication. Start to see if the dog can do that indication without help!
- Praise when the dog finds the hot article and begins licking the food. Give your dog a free cookie at the article.
- Ask for a retrieve/nose touch as soon as the dog finishes their free cookie. Have your hand there to help If needed and prevent your dog from moving on to another article.
- Cue (or let the dog offer) their alert and reward multiple times before cuing/luring them to go back to their platform to wait.
- Start to gradually stop praising/cuing the dog and see if they will offer a smaller version of the indication without help (mouthing the article or stopping sniffing and beginning a bit of stillness at the lid)
A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ...
AWESOME ! Incredible individualized attention for all the Gold students, regardless of their level of training prior to starting. We made HUGE progress over 6 weeks and have the tools to continue our training on our own and continue our success. A MUST for anyone planning on doing advanced obedience work that involves scent discrimination articles.
This course is exactly what it describes. Whether you have had experience teaching scent articles or not, Laura will analyze where you are and offer different solutions to make you progress. The lectures as well as the supporting videos are clear and pave a solid road to making the dog understand what the game is about and the trainer develop skills to support the dog. In six weeks, we went from no idea what an indication was to an indication with no food with an average 80% success rate. I am very glad I had the opportunity to take this class at Gold. This is not cookie cutter class ; it is truly individualized to each team's needs. Nathalie V.
This was an outstanding class to learn articles if you had never started or fix a problem if you'd already started. Laura is a talented instructor with a depth of knowledge to guide the dog and handler to success. The course was tailored so that we have good guidance on how to continue progressing after the session is over. I wouldn't hesitate to take another class from Laura. Deb A.
Laura provides a step-by-step method for scent discrimination that is guaranteed to be successful, even for the most sensitive dog. She is quick to understand the nuances of each team and provide individualized instruction. It's all about keeping it fun and improving the dog's confidence. Wonderful course - I was thrilled with the progress we made in six weeks. ~ Jill Stoller
I'm so impressed by this course and by the speed at which my dog picked up this method of training. We went from never having done any scentwork at all, (handler or dog) to getting a reliable nose-touch with duration on the correct article without any food on it (ever, now) and this has just enabled us to pass our TEAM1 and TEAM1+ titles :) (The scentwork was the only thing I had absolutely no idea how to train, as I don't come from an obedience background!) Thanks Laura!
This was a great class. Laura had great knowledge and read the dogs very well. Her suggestions were spot on to keep the dog and handler on the right track to success.
This class has helped me find the holes in my articles training. Laura is an amazing teacher! She helped me and my dog return to the very beginning of learning to scent discrimination. Laura took us back to ground zero, and work our way through the process in a calming controlled manner. My dog and I thank he for this every time we work.