Saturday we had our first official nosework class. The rest of the class had already done one six week session, but Treasure and I had been working on our own at home, so I hoped we were up to speed. I really didn’t have anything to worry about. This girl can find food anywhere! Not only did she find food in open boxes, but she found food in a bag hanging on a jump post up off the ground. Everyone was impressed. I always have to giggle when other people are impressed with Treasure and her abilities. I was very proud of her, but I know from seeing her at home that she can literally find food anywhere!
There were times when I felt a bit pressured to help her out and bring her back to the boxes. I have not been helping her at home in that way. My feeling is that I don’t know what she smells or exactly how the odor and air currents are traveling. So I’ve just been letting her figure it out on her own. She always finds the food. But I realized that if I expect to go on and possibly compete, that time is an issue. So if she gets off track, it can cost us valuable time. I’m not sure I’m comfortable intervening at this point. I know that Treasure knows the game and can find the food. Who am I to tell her whether she’s actually following the scent or not? I have no clue. She is actively sniffing and searching, so in my mind, she is still on the scent somewhere.
I am allowed to use a leash and to guide her slightly towards the boxes. How I see this being useful is when I first set her down and send her to search. She is in a new area, so needs to get her bearings. She is not like the sighted dogs there who can see the boxes and props around and have an idea of where to start looking. Sometimes she lunges forward like a horse coming out of the starting gate and then realizes that she is not in a familiar area and has to stop and get her bearings before she can start to search for the scent. I may play around with using the leash to get her grounded and stable in the new environment until she catches the scent.
Treasure did very well, even conquering new finds, like the hanging bag, that we had not practiced before. I am very proud of her and she had so much fun! It is the first time I have seen her not want to stay put in her stroller. She wanted to go find more, more, more!
So this week, I am going to start adding new objects. I suspect this will not be as big of an issue for her as for the sighted dogs that have learned to look specifically for boxes. And things at different heights. I’ve also started to hide things in corners to encourage her to search the whole room. If I ever get home while there is some daylight left outside, I am supposed to try it in the snow too.