Ready, Set, SNIFF!
A little note about hot versus cold... As you get more involved in this sport, you will probably accumulate quite a collection of "stuff!" It is important to try to keep your hot stuff (your scents, scent kit, anything you've put odor in) separate from the cold (new tins, containers that have never held scent, etc.). I use my laundry room that my dogs aren't allowed free access to for hot storage, and my garage for cold storage. Try your best to separate hot and cold things if at all possible. You can eventually put previously hot stuff back in with the cold, but I will wait at least a month with whatever it was hot completely separated from the hot before moving it back in with the cold.
For this week, let's move on to actual containers! Using the tupperware containers you've made, you will designate one as the hot one. This will be your hot container for forever! You can designate it with a symbol in marker, but then you have to make sure to either do the same to the other tupperware containers (maybe an X for hot and an O for cold), OR be sure that the marker has dried completely before using it in training. I personally had to add an X otherwise there was no way I was going to remember!
Put your scented q-tips in the tin (you can keep using the same tin), and then use some Quakehold to adhere it to the bottom of the container. Put the lid on, and you're ready to go!
Place the hot container on the ground, just like what you did with the tin at the end of Week 1. Reward any interaction (hopefully sniffing at this point!).
Now add a second container to the mix. This one will be cold, but you can totally have a blank tin in there held on with Quakehold if you'd like.
Next, add a third container, so you now have one hot, and two cold. If your dog goes to the "wrong" one, just wait them out. Don't say anything or lure them over to the hot - just wait.
Time for container four! At this point, you can also vary what the q-tips are in. You can just tape them down in the container, use heat shrink tubing or other type of holder, or stick with the metal tin.
With all of these sessions, it is important to keep them fun and motivating! If you ever need to, don't hesitate to return to previous steps.
Our next exercise is to reinforce what we have done so far using plastic bowls. I want you to practice this at least once a week for the rest of the class, adding more blank bowls each time. For now, since our dogs are used to hunting with 4 containers, let’s do 1 hot and 3 cold bowls.
Place a hot tin in one of the bowls. Let your dog hunt, and as soon as they put their head in the hot bowl, you are going to (to the best of your ability!) throw food in the bowl itself. If it misses, that’s OK. We want to keep our dog’s head DOWN in the bowl at (or very very close to) source. So if they left their head, that is OK! Wait until they lower it again, and then you can mark and toss food in. In the following video, I am using 9 total bowls with Jari, so you can work up to that over the next weeks!
Since there will end up being a ton of contamination, make sure that you clean EACH bowl (we want them to smell the same!) with safe dish detergent and clean your tin, as well! If you have a new tin to use each time, that would be even better! Your hot bowl will still be your hot bowl each time, and make sure to use Quakehold on your tin if your dog tends to want to knock the bowls around.
Do the progression going from one to four containers at least three times before just using the four. Even still, I like to vary what I’m using. Practice the bowl exercise twice, and keep it in your repertoire at least once a week until the end of the class. You can vary the amount of bowls as the weeks go on, but for this week, only use four (one hot and three cold).