I can't believe we only have a few more days until our K9 Nosework ORT!
When we did a mock ORT before the break it took forever for Reyna to stop trying to search the room and to focus on the boxes. Clearly we have not spent enough time on box drills!!!
At first I thought if I only put the hide in the boxes she would "get it". She didn't. She continue to search the room and was getting increasingly frustrated with the game. So we took a break for several days so I could come up with a plan. I wanted her to develop a specific pattern for searching the containers so that she doesn't miss one...hmmm...who do I know that teaches Nosework this way? Andrew Ramsey! He teaches a methodical search pattern using drawers. The same should work for boxes.
So I lined up four boxes and since this is drive building I put her toy in the box also. We hadn't done paired hides in a long time so we should probably do that anyway. The odor and the toy went into the first box...no lid. Of course she ran right out and grabbed the toy...well actually she hesitated with her nose on the odor tin until I said "okay", clearly we haven't done paired hides in a while.
We did that two more times until she would run straight to the box without looking at anything along the way. Then I put it in the second box and sent her with fingers crossed. She was focused and checked the first box, when it wasn't there she moved to the second BINGO! She was delighted. Since I want to keep her focus on that first box so she doesn't bypass it we did one more in the second box, then back to the first, then back to the second, then on to the third. Two hides in the third and then back to the first, then the second, then the third, then the fourth.
This may seem like a lot for one session, and for some dogs it may be. For Reyna this is easy fun, fast paced stuff. The boxes are open, the odor is paired and she gets plenty of tug time...what's not to love?
Next it was time to close the boxes...I'm using shoe boxes by the way...sturdy, easy to open, minimal venting, and free from a local department store where they were only too happy to hand their trash over to the crazy lady with the plastic bag! I definitely want to get official ORT boxes, but it didn't work out for right now.
Back to the training...
We closed the boxes this time, still with the toy inside, and started over with the odor box first. She blasted right past it...so on a suggestion from my friend Lisa I removed all the boxes except the odor box until she would head straight for it, then I kept the odor box in the same spot, but added a second box to the line and kept that until we have 7 boxes...she stayed focused on the line of boxes and didn't start wandering around the room. If she got to the end of the line she turned right back around and searched them again, this time indicating on the correct box. We redid the box open drill with the boxes closed...she's doing GREAT.
Tomorrow we will redo the drill but with odor only...so no pairing. After that I'm just going to mix it up with lots of pairing to keep her really super focused on those boxes. Her indication is clear, she freezes in place and if I don't reward right away she sets her chin or paw (or both) on the box...it's just getting her to keep checking boxes and not get caught up in Interior Search mode.
I'll keep you posted...the ORT is Sunday...