Three weeks ago today I started my new puppy on Nosework. That’s a very short amount of time but in dog training MUCH can be accomplished. I’ve been trying some new tactics – adjusting things for a puppy but also upping the ante when I felt he was ready. If we don’t test our readiness to progress, we risk staying in our comfort zone and stagnating in our training.
My key focus when introducing nosework is value for odor and criteria at source. Do I believe he knows that odor is the game? Am I consistent with marking and reinforcing only when at source?
He picked up odor very fast. I did not train every day, nor too many times a day – 1 or 2 times max. I also felt my timing and criteria were good – making it very clear to him how the game works. Based on all of this I felt comfortable to up the ante a little … getting to 6 containers pretty quickly, introducing interiors and adding in a little proofing.
I like the idea of introducing interiors early on so that there is less focus and history on behaviors developed on containers. Containers can bring about undesirable behaviors that can confuse the dog on what is being rewarded. When we are first learning we are still working on our timing – we have to react pretty quickly to all that is going on. Dogs can get frustrated when they have “told” us they found odor but we aren’t responding fast enough with marking their good behavior. They will then try other unwanted behaviors at the container like pawing, batting, pushing, etc. Especially for our versatile trained dogs that have other known behaviors for “boxes” (perching, pivoting) and “nose behaviors” like nose touches for agility contacts, it can make the understanding less clear.
Here are 2 short compilations of Drac working containers and being introduced to interiors. Loving his clear indication of hitting odor and an early development of nose staying at source. I’m not too shabby either :)!