Instructor: Laura Waudby
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 dicuss 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 neccessary 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.
The full progression to scent article training will be discussed in the lectures, however students who are starting at step 1 should not expect to completely master all the exercises in the 6 weeks.
Here is recent team Sue and Brinkley showing their progression from this class!
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 11:30 AM PDT.
Enrollment limits: 12 gold, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level, you can sign up any time during the registration period.
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.
1. Overview of Common Methods
2. Basics of a Food Based Method
3. How to reward, how to handle mistakes
4. Problem Solving- Franticness and Grabbing
5. Problem Solving- Looking for Help
6. Games to build confidence and add challenges
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. 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 altoid tins or similar small metal containers (serach 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.
Step 2: Working an Indication
When you feel like your dog is starting to understand that there is food out there to find, versus just frantically alerting or staring at you, we can start to ask for an actual indication on the article after the dog licks off the food. At this point you should only be using a tiny smear of food so it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 licks for your dog to finish. And you should be using 3-4 articles. For some dogs you can be at step 2 on their second session. For other dogs it may not be until session 3 or 4. But do not spend more than that just having your dog lick food!
If your dog is already showing a tendency to just grab any article then do NOT ask for a retrieve yet. Either spend another few sessions on your articles with more visible food or switch to flat, non-retrievable lids (preferred) and we will use a nose touch indication.
As your dog is licking, keep praising your dog and now cue your dog to retrieve it or to do their nose touch. You may need to reach your hand and point at the article so your dog doesn’t accidently indicate an article nearby. During the first few lessons, it’s ok to accept an abbreviated version of the indication you have teached. 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!
This is Zumi’s learning to do a nose touch after she licks food off lids. 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:
And this is Lance’s 2nd lesson re-learning scent articles with a nose touch indication. In this session I first allow him to just lick the correct article and note how I feed right at the correct article. At 34sec Lance offers a little head dip on his own after being rewarded! And at 39sec Lance shows an error of just going back to the previously rewarded location and you can see how I handle that error by simply having him sit and give him a few cookies. The cookies serve to both calm him so he doesn't get frantic on the next serach and to reward him for simply staying in the game. In this session I Gradually start asking him to do his nose touch, first rewarding immediately as soon as I see he found it (in this case he bites it) but if he hadn't already learned scent articles with a retrieve indication I would still be having food on the article at this stage.
I do some reverse luring (RL) and also rewarded him for repeatedly lowering his head. Lance is not yet proficient enough with a nose touch to offer me more duration. (Note I am not reapplying food after each one, you will still be doing so at this step but Lance already understands the concept of searching for my scent through previous training):
This is Puppy Zumi being asked to retrieve after she licks food off the dumbbell. You will notice she actually moves off the correct one to check out the other articles. I should have had my hand right at the correct article and cued the retrieve faster in order to try and prevent her moving off and risk Zumi retrieving a wrong article:
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 way 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 will need to see a more consistent indication before you reward your dog or interrupt and reset.
- Praise when the dog finds the hot article and begins licking the food.
- Ask for a retrieve/nose touch while the dog is licking. Have your hand there to help If needed and prevent your dog from moving on to another article.
- If you have a nose touch: Use RL or ask for repeated nose touches to get more insistent alerts. And give several treats for the dog staying at the source versus immediately pulling them off.
- 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
FDSA is very lucky to have Laura. this is the second class i've taken with her - she is a gifted instructor and I look forward to future classes with her!
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.