Ready, Set, SNIFF!
Welcome to your first week of scent work training! For the purposes of this class, we will only be using birch. There are other scents used depending on the venue (anise, clove, and cypress to name a few), and we will introduce those in later courses.
To start, here is a bit of vocabulary!
Source - For this class our birch will be on multiple q-tips, so source is where those are located (therefore where the hide is). Hides can be in tins, in shrink tubing, just in Quakehold or held with Scotch tape, and in some other cool things!
Hot - If I'm describing something as "hot" (usually in reference to a container search) it means that is where the scent is.
Cold - The opposite of hot, of course! Could refer to an empty box or container.
Accessible - The dog can literally put their nose at source.
Inaccessible - The dog cannot quite reach source.
Now that we've gotten that cleared up, let's get sniffing!
Grab your treats, a metal tin (with holes), and some q-tips. Fill your tin with a few scented q-tips. Hold the tin in front of your dog and reward any type of sniffing interaction with it. Make sure you reward over the tin itself!
Now try the same thing with the tin in your other hand.
Switch the tin back and forth from hand to hand, still making sure to reward your dog for any sniffing interaction with the tin.
Once you have a few sessions like those finished and your dog is consistently interacting with the tin, you can move on to this next step. Hold a treat in one hand and the tin in the other. You are kind of waiting your dog out to have them "choose" to interact with the tin and ignore the food in your hand. You can use that same treat to reward them, making sure to reward over the tin.
Our next step is to put the tin on the ground! Reward over the tin for any interaction with it.
Practice this progression until your dog is offering to interact with the tin on the ground every time you move it. Then for sessions after, work on a few reps switching hands, then do the “food versus tin” exercise for 3-5 reps, going right in to the tin on the ground.