Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scent Articles

I have pulled out Katie's scent articles again. Scent articles can be a source of a lot of frustration and stress when you are training for Utility level obedience. Katie, with no talent for using her nose, and I were no exception. The scent article exercise consists of 5 leather articles and 5 metal articles. Dumbbells are commonly used. The handler scents a leather article and a metal article with his or her hand and then one at a time, they are placed within a pile of the 8 other articles. The dog then has to use his/her nose to find the article the handler touched. In competition, I always touched food prior to going into the ring so there would be a food smell on my hands. When articles are going well, it really is neat to see your dog search the pile and to find the correct one. With no upcoming show pressures, Katie has been working her articles like an Obedience Trial Champion.

Prior to learning articles, Katie did not use her nose for anything. She was very visual and had no clue what to do when we started training scent articles. There are lots of methods to use, but I decided to make something up. I put Katie into a down stay and blind folded her. I would then hold up the correct article and when I saw her nostrils quiver, I would click and treat. I would then hold up a wrong article and give her a non-reward mark, so she'd know that it was incorrect. Next, I started working her with a pile of 2 articles and then 3 and then 4..... and so on. The blind folding worked and I actually know of one other person who took my idea and succeeded with an American Eskimo dog :-).

Now, we just do articles for fun! The correct article is the metal one at 12:00.