Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When you're training to find keys, you may just lose them!

We're scent training! Yay! My dog will be able to find my keys and phone! 

My biggest difficulty in getting this started is exactly that, getting her started sniffing. I've got treats in my pocket and she's so focused on sitting nicely and waiting for my next command. But the next command is "find".  Find starts with sniffing and how do I get her to start sniffing? Dogs can learn by example and I did try sniffing the things I had placed on an ottoman. 

Incidentally I quickly realized I couldn't use a coffee table that prior to this I had placed as off-limits.  She was trained to not touch anything on that table, we had moved the table to a different room and I had forgotten. Shallie had not!  She was not going to touch anything on that table! Rather than retrain that the table was now OK, then train something new, I just used a large ottoman.

So now I'm sniffing stuff and Shallie is not. I sniffed my own phone and whew! The lotion I put on there that I used is way too strong. No wonder Shallie has an aversion to it! I've used the words, "Let's go see what's over here!" then realized she's following and looking at me because I've started with "Let's go".  I have to rethink every step of this training.  Lets face it, it's not like I have cougar urine on hand for her to sniff.

  •  I've wiped the lotion off my phone.  She can still smell the small amount that's there.
  •  I've placed a leather fob on my keys making it a more distinct smell for Shallie to find.
  • Wording to get started has now become "We're going on a treasure hunt!" and  "What's this?!" avoiding the other training words of "Let's go".
  • Going around the table and tapping near the items has helped get her sniffing. 
  • Exclaiming "Find!"  Keys!" then the marker "Good!" followed by a treat reward the moment she sniffs the keys, has also encouraged her to sniff.
  • Treats had to be placed on a shelf five feet away to keep her from focusing on treats in my pocket
  •  Leaving the items around and catching her doing it correctly has also encouraged sniffing. I've actually misplaced my keys by placing them in different spots around the house. :(
Training seems to work best in short 2 to 3 minute bursts through out the day rather than trying to set a specific 15-20 minute time frame.  It matches the attention span of the dog.  If I set it up that it can work this way, it'll make it easier to fit in training and accomplish something without being frustrated that I just don't have the time. Shallie is way more interested in learning something new when it's short, sweet, fun, and rewarding. If we stop training while she still excited about, she seems more likely to want to work with me the next time. I knew this before, but was thinking with more advanced training that it required more time. I had been sick and just didn't have the energy to train for 15 minutes straight. If I remembered to set things up ahead of time and break it into small manageable chunks of time, I would've been able to get in training where I wasn't able to do as much this week. It really is training for people and dogs alike! 
Any other ideas for getting the "find" command started?


1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome post, Jacque!
    We will discuss the finer points on Saturday at my 201 class at 9:15; I hope you and Shallie can make it!