Handling Analysis – Scent Work

Here’s a video of Toka in an Advanced containers search at a recent AKC trial.*  At this level, the dog has to find two hides (one birch, one anise) in a varied selection of containers within 2 minutes.

I sent this video and the assessment of my handling (see below)  to my beginning nose work students.  They’re still at the stage where they are amazed and delighted that their dogs are learning to find odor.  They haven’t realized or considered how much a handler can influence a dog’s performance.  Watching this may help them realize that quite soon, ‘this could be us!’

I asked them to watch the video three times.  First, to watch it in its entirety to get a feel for the movement of the dog and the handler.

I then suggested they watch the clip through again to see how I am positioned throughout the search, and how much I move.

Last, students watched, stopping the video at the times indicated and reading my comments

Here’s the link to the vid.  Click on the colored phrase:    AKC Advanced Container Search – 2/17/18

Start line – I wait until I am positive he is tuned into me.  This start line routine is specific to me and my dog, and I am slowly shaping him into checking in with me, then starting his search at the start line.

Edited:  I’ve gotten a few comments from people who have told me I need to have my dog facing forward and checking out the search area at the start line.  Let me repeat:  This start line routine is specific to my dog.  I am not advocating that everyone do this, nor that this works for all dogs.  It works for us.  That’s what matters.

:09 – he goes to check out the chair.  I move into the search area to remind him to work.  There are times I simply stand behind the start line and let him search.  Because he was distracted, I moved to get him going.

:15 – he starts to check out the large suitcase.  I keep moving.  If I plant myself, he could get talked into false alerting.  He checks out the entire suitcase – that’s experience on his part

:23 – Toka hits that cylinder and leaves.  I make a note in my head ‘check that again’ because he’s expressed interest

:30 to :40 – notice the distance between me and my dog.  He’s doing the work, I’m in the background, remembering what containers he’s checked and what he’s missed

:31 – see how he swings around?  He’s caught odor.  Checks one container, moves to the right of the screen, and at

:36 – catches odor again

:38 – passes the red box because he knows it won’t pay (isn’t hot)

:44 – I start to move in, confident that he’s indicating a hot container.  I give him another second ‘just to make sure,’ then call alert.  I could have moved in faster & shaved a second off that reward.

:52 – mistake on my part.  I have him check a neighboring container.  It’s *highly* unlikely that they’d place hides next to each other at this level.  3 seconds lost.  😦

It is important, however, that I got Toka back and searching immediately after paying him for his correct indication.

1:07 – he goes back to check that bag.  I move towards that cylinder he’d shoved earlier to get him going in that direction.

1:14 – he alerts, I give him another second, just to be sure, before calling alert

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 3.52.08 PM

*Thanks to judge Terry Brown!  Also many thanks to Laurie Soutar and Lake Country Lure Coursers for organizing and hosting these trials.

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