Friday, January 11, 2013

Distractions in Nose Work

Adding any of the Ds (distance, duration, distractions)can cause challenges. Much of what I've read and heard is to introduce distractions in Nose Work like you would in other dog sports....slowly.

I chose a different route. Everybody has to pick their own and this is mine...

Nose Work is very different from other sports, but one thing it has in common is that there are many ways to teach a dog to find, and alert, on a source of odor. So I didn't limit my research to just NACSW information. I watch videos on SAR, beginning police K9 training, Andrew Ramsey's Nosework  videos, medical alert dog training...etc. I learned a lot and got a lot of ideas from that, but one thing I picked up from watching some of the narcotic detection training is how quickly they introduce distractions, specifically with the Randy Hare box method...

Okay I definitely don't want Reyna tearing somebody's car apart at a trial, but this did give me the confidence to introduce distractions early in our training and to teach Reyna to obey target odor over her toy or treat. **look up Randy Hare box method for more videos of dogs further along and their ability to handle distractions

We started with her ball in a mostly closed drawer and the odor and ball in another mostly closed drawer. If Reyna were easily discouraged in searches I would have started with the paired hide all the way open and the ball drawer mostly closed, but she is very persistent and driven when it comes to her toys. 

I asked her to search and I intentionally set up the hide so she would get to the ball only drawer first. She pawed, and pawed, and stared, and pawed, and then sniffed in the direction of the source odor...I 
opened the drawer with the paired hide and we had a party!!!

I did that a few more times but after maybe the third I couldn't fool her...she didn't even glance at the ball drawer, she went straight to the paired. The next session I did one like this with no issues so I did the next one with the ball drawer and an unpaired problem. We had just separated the target odor from the ball odor, and made the target odor more important!!! 

Now to increase distractions I started closing the odor drawer more and opening the ball drawer more  until she could easily snatch the ball. She did once, I didn't fuss, I just took it away and asked her to search again, which she did successfully. The next time we repeated the exercise and she went right past her ball to the odor. ( it's important to have a duplicate or equal/greater value reward for when she alerts on the target odor)

We have since moved to tug as a reward, I haven't done the same distraction training with the tug but we will be working on that and food distraction this weekend...I'll get a video up tomorrow if I can. 

Also another thing i learned in my research is that I really want one of these toy launchers!....

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