Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jedi's Nose News

I had mentioned in January that Jedi and I started a new nosework class. We just finished that one and rolled into the next class. I thought I'd share what we've been doing.

Four dogs and MINE is the one posing for the camera!
First of all, the class is all German shepherds which IMHO is pretty freaking awesome!

Jedi is the oldest dog, and has done some nosework before under the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). This class uses United Kennel Club (UKC) rules. The rules are similar, but not exactly the same. Switching gears has been a bit challenging. 

NACSW says that each dog has their own tell when they find the odor. Our job was to learn to read the dog. At trial the handler calls alert and the judge says yes or no; the handler doesn't have to explain how they know. 

UKC, however, requires the handler to state the dog's indicated response is beforehand. Therefore, we're training the dogs to have a predictable, reliable tell. Jedi's previous tell -- pawing -- is frowned upon by the UKC. At higher levels it can lead to point deducting "faults." Instead, we're teaching him to lie down for a low hide and to sit for a high hide. 

This class started off with dogs searching funny looking boxes. These are 18" cubes with 6" holes in two sides. I have a cardboard practice box, but we use metal and wooden ones in class.

In this class dogs are learning the target odors backwards from the other class. Currently the dogs are finding all five of the odors together. As we progress, dogs will be taught to find the individual odors separately.

Another thing we're doing that NACSW doesn’t do is teach our dogs owner discrimination. It's similar to something you'll see in higher levels at obedience trials. I have glove that has been touched by nobody but me. This glove is hidden in a box and Jedi has to find it. Right now we're only working with two boxes -- an empty one and a gloved-filled one. The ultimate goal is to have 12 boxes, each containing a glove that has been handled by someone, and Jedi has to find my glove. Pretty exciting, hunh?

But the most exciting news came at last class. I've known for months that the Nosework & Rally Club of North Florida was hosting a UKC nosework trial in April. In fact, I was really bummed when we bombed the ORTs last January. UKC accepts NACSW scent discrimination pre-tests and I had wanted to participate in the April trials. What I didn't realize is that UKC allows these tests  -- called pre-trials -- to be held in conjunction with the trial. (With NACSW they are two separate events.) And since I registered Jedi with the UKC two months ago, he's eligible to take the pre-trials in April! The instructor was as thrilled as I was. In fact, she rearranged the lesson plan so that Jedi and I could get in some pre-trial practice.

So with that, I need to cut this short and break out the boxes and birch oil. Wish us luck. Lord know we could use some. -- K

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