I’ve come home from a workshop today absolutely buzzing. It’s been a while since I’ve chosen and paid to attend a workshop with my dogs, partly due to the lack of money and time since moving house last December, but also because I’ve been quite happy just enjoying retirement with Guinness. While doing extra training with him would benefit both of us, I also don’t feel like he needs it. However I’ve always been interested in learning more about scentwork and since having Zebby I knew it would really benefit all three of us, so we finally found a date that we could go.
Tracy currently runs introduction and progression scentwork classes at Dig It Dogs called “Entertain Your Dogs Nose” and is looking to offer more staged levels in future.
We went along to the introduction and it started off with a brief talk about the dogs nose, scentwork and how to get started. Then we did a short exercise which encouraged the dogs to go out and seek a treat or toy and got them going on the concept of “find it”.
I was so lucky to be in a small class with only two of us, so Zebby had lots of space and each dog focused on what they were doing. He quickly took to the concept of finding the treat and was happily pushing cones out of the way and sticking his head in to cardboard boxes. One of the things I love about this pup thanks to Jane’s breeding and upbringing is his confidence around objects and sounds.
I loved how the workshop and all of Tracy’s instructing was geared up to allow the dogs to have fun and set them up to succeed. There was no control and no obedience, just letting them do what they want to do, sniff! I found as we worked through the scentwork exercises Zebby become more focused on me and switched on to working with me. He offered some loose lead walking and was running back to me eagerly after each search. These games were improving his overall obedience by developing his relationship with me.
After doing lots of different on lead searches in different situations we had a short break then did an off-lead search. Using a secure fenced area we started by making it easy and throwing a treat for them to go and find and then Tracy would go out and place a treat which I then sent the dog to find. Tracy read each dogs ability really well and progressed or simplified the search accordingly.
I was so touched to see Zebby run out and get the treat and then coming running back and diving in to my arms for a party! My little superstar. The one and only time we tried going off-lead in a class he completely lost his head and did a zoomie around the hall, yet here he was offering perfect recalls.
I swapped between Zebby and Guinness throughout the session and Guinness had lots of fun too. Being a collie he is more prone to searching with his eyes rather than his nose so wasn’t quite as successful, but the exercises were set up to encourage him to sniff and make it achievable for him and he did a lovely sweeping search of the off-lead area.
We finished with a challenge… 6 scent pots, one of which had the dogs treats in them, but we didn’t know which pot. We had to encourage the dogs to search the pots and when we thought they had found the pot with the treats in we shouted YES and the clock stopped.
Guinness went first and just tried to get in to the pots rather than sniffing. On the second attempt he was a lot better and it was clear which pot had the chicken it in after a little while.
Zebby was straight in there and really glued his nose on to the pot with the chicken so the clock stopped at 2.8 seconds, putting us in to second place out of all the dogs that have done this on an introductory course this year!!
I can’t express how much I enjoyed the session. It was especially awesome to see Zebby doing what he has been bred to do and loves to do. Searching and sniffing. The breed is so geared up for it that it would almost be cruel not to let them practice this instinct.
Throughout the whole class all you could hear was praise, encouragement and laughter as we just enjoyed it so much because the dogs were enjoying it. The whole aim of the session wasn’t to be serious and get the dogs indicating on a scent or doing big searches for drugs, it was to introduce the dogs to using their nose in a fun, friendly way and because of this I absolutely LOVED it. As a bonus both dogs went home with a lovely rosette for participating and some free treats!
If you’re anywhere near Sandbach I highly recommend you check out the classes. Scentwork is beneficially for any breed or age of dog and exceptionally good fun.
Check out the facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/entertainyourdogsnose/