Saturday, 17 January 2015

Sniffer dog training

There's been quite a push (mainly in the States) to identify "new" dog sports or activities that the average pet owner can do with their dog. As with some of the more established sports, they seem to be largely based upon "professional" dog handling, which is then adapted, codified and turned into an activity that anyone can take part in.

Daisy, Cybi and I are currently taking part in a class which uses the principles of drug detection dog handling to create something that any dog can do. The class is taught by our wonderful tracking teacher and, every two weeks or so, one of my dogs and me trot off to a little village hall in the middle of nowhere to work on their ability to identify the smell of various essential oils when hidden in boxes, luggage and indoor and outdoor search areas.

It's got a lot of traction in the USA, where the discipline is known as "K9 Nosework", under the banner of the National Association of Canine Scent Work and is in the very early stages of being established over here. One of the beauties of it is that it is intensely mentally demanding, while not asking too much physically, which is great for youngsters and older dogs, or those that don't have the physique for something like working trials. Another nice thing is that the dog isn't competing against others, but against a standard, so it's a better measure of how the dog is learning and progressing.

Cybi learning how to find a scented tea bag!

We're currently working on locating basil-oil scented items from all over the house. Apparently basil oil is repellant to most dogs, but my two both keep trying to eat the items, which makes me thing they didn't get the memo on that.

Find out more about the basics here

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