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Brito – starting Scent Discrimination

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I started Brito’s scent work a few days ago.

I chose not to use the Altoids Tin method that I used with Lyra (you can see that method here:

Brito doesn’t like to make mistakes so I wanted to avoid having him hand me “wrong” things.

So I started with Canning Jar Lids – they’re hard to pick up so my hope was that he’d be more likely to leave them on the ground.  So far it’s working reasonably well most of the time.

I also opted against shaping this exercise  from the start.  He’s not “doing” anything to get a cookie. I’m simply having him learn to associate the lid that I held with the smell of cookies – the only lid that I place cookies on happens to smell like me.

That’s about it.  I went from one lid to several over a few days.  The reason I raised the number of lids quickly (rather than waiting for him to figure out the game), was to avoid teaching him to go back and forth between a few – I’m not trying to teach him to alternate lids; I want him to realize that many are “wrong” and only one is “right”.

Next step will be to wait until he shows clear “I found it!” behavior over the correct lid before placing food on it.

From there….I have to decide when I get there.  I’ll try to tape him again in a week or so to see where we’re at.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

5 responses »

  1. Denise,

    Wouldn’t the small of the food treats on the ld be far more salient to Brito than your smell?

    I would also wonder if you shouldn’t be using a ‘something’ (wooden spoon? piece of dowel? salad tongs?) to move the lids around, rather than your little fingers.

    • Food smell is why he wants to play the game! That’s ok for now.

      I don’t sweat small amounts of scent on the other objects; too time consuming to worry about it and over the long run, not so important. But it’s certainly ok if you want to use something to move your objects. With my adult dogs I’ve always handled the ‘wrong’ articles and never had an issue with it. Big difference between a heavily scented article and one that has been lightly handled by the edges.

  2. I’ve been wondering how I could start scent discrimination with a dog who is not yet retrieving; this is a great idea. I do have one question–would there be an issue using food scent with a dog who has already done quite a bit of Nose Work? Or will that just give her a head start?
    I’ve often thought that the hard part of scent discrimination is that the dogs can’t believe we’re asking them to do something that is (for them) that easy!

  3. Do you have a suggestion for a dog that doesn’t slow down to sniff? She sort of pounces frantically on the lid. Just slow everything down and keep feeding? Or is Brito just more deliberate? I liked the idea of isolating scent from retrieve so thought Id try this….


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