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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dog training classes are cancelled here for the pandemic lockdown until at least the end of January, and, to be honest I can't see them restarting in the foreseeable future, or me being comfortable being in public classes again for quite a while. One of the local clubs is estimating April-May for restarting classes.

We have been working on Rally while waiting for classes to restart - I have gone through and taught the Intermediate signs for CKC and CARO (there's a lot of overlap so what is novice at one will be intermediate at the other). Now I am working on mock courses in a local field and continuing working on focused heeling and decreasing reward frequency. Honestly, I want the reassurance of an instructor nitpicking before I will feel remotely ready to trial, the instructor we had for our beginners class was really really helpful in seeing things I missed, and a trial environment will be very different than the open field I work in.

I see Fenzi is offering nosework 101 starting Feb. 1. If I were to just take Fenzi classes, is it reasonable that I could reach trial ready for novice without setting foot in a physical class? Has anyone taken the Fenzi nosework classes?
 

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I have not taken a Fenzi nosework class. However I recently noticed that they are offering "titles" by way of sending in videos. They have some examples up. To my way of thinking this is a great way to spend some time during the pandemic. Fenzi claims this is good prep for a trial. It is hard for me to speak to that because I have yet to go to a nosework trial of any venue despite being in my 7th month of nosework training.
 

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Dog training classes are cancelled here for the pandemic lockdown until at least the end of January, and, to be honest I can't see them restarting in the foreseeable future, or me being comfortable being in public classes again for quite a while. One of the local clubs is estimating April-May for restarting classes.

We have been working on Rally while waiting for classes to restart - I have gone through and taught the Intermediate signs for CKC and CARO (there's a lot of overlap so what is novice at one will be intermediate at the other). Now I am working on mock courses in a local field and continuing working on focused heeling and decreasing reward frequency. Honestly, I want the reassurance of an instructor nitpicking before I will feel remotely ready to trial, the instructor we had for our beginners class was really really helpful in seeing things I missed, and a trial environment will be very different than the open field I work in.

I see Fenzi is offering nosework 101 starting Feb. 1. If I were to just take Fenzi classes, is it reasonable that I could reach trial ready for novice without setting foot in a physical class? Has anyone taken the Fenzi nosework classes?
It’s great you are working on rally at home. AKC has a program to earn titles by sending in videos in rally. You are smart to want an instructor to nitpick, make sure your positions are correct and you are doing the signs correctly etc.

I’ve never taken a Fenris course but have heard good things about them. I teach nose work and compete. It’s unrealistic to think you could be ready for a trial after one session and never having trained in a dog training facility. Even if you took one session in a training club you wouldn’t be ready.

it Depends on what venue you would want to trial at, but I’ll use AKC as an example. There’s 5 elements. Most people don’t do Handlers Discrimination which is different (you are the odor your dog searches). You have to train containers (boxes), interiors, exterior and buried. Exteriors includes vehicle searches. Each one of these elements will take time to train. It’s fascinating watching dogs as they learn. Dogs who are finding odor in a box consistently don’t understand that now they need to find it in bag, or purse or stuck to a chair. Moving from searching containers to interiors is another huge leap. More leaps to exterior including teaching them to keep their nose close to a car as you work all sides Including turning corners, Vehicles can include all kinds of motorized vehicles. Moving from searching a car to a moving van or farm tractor takes time and experience. These leaps would be required for novice level AKC. Of course you can enter just containers before interiors etc,

Add in the factor that performing nose work in your house or yard is not the same as inside a training facility. If you do take a Fenzi class, plan on taking classes in one or more training buildings so your dog is comfortable and can work in different environments.

I do think taking the Fenzi course could be a good start towards competing in nose work, but consider it just the first of several steps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It’s great you are working on rally at home. AKC has a program to earn titles by sending in videos in rally. You are smart to want an instructor to nitpick, make sure your positions are correct and you are doing the signs correctly etc.

I’ve never taken a Fenris course but have heard good things about them. I teach nose work and compete. It’s unrealistic to think you could be ready for a trial after one session and never having trained in a dog training facility. Even if you took one session in a training club you wouldn’t be ready.

it Depends on what venue you would want to trial at, but I’ll use AKC as an example. There’s 5 elements. Most people don’t do Handlers Discrimination which is different (you are the odor your dog searches). You have to train containers (boxes), interiors, exterior and buried. Exteriors includes vehicle searches. Each one of these elements will take time to train. It’s fascinating watching dogs as they learn. Dogs who are finding odor in a box consistently don’t understand that now they need to find it in bag, or purse or stuck to a chair. Moving from searching containers to interiors is another huge leap. More leaps to exterior including teaching them to keep their nose close to a car as you work all sides Including turning corners, Vehicles can include all kinds of motorized vehicles. Moving from searching a car to a moving van or farm tractor takes time and experience. These leaps would be required for novice level AKC. Of course you can enter just containers before interiors etc,

Add in the factor that performing nose work in your house or yard is not the same as inside a training facility. If you do take a Fenzi class, plan on taking classes in one or more training buildings so your dog is comfortable and can work in different environments.

I do think taking the Fenzi course could be a good start towards competing in nose work, but consider it just the first of several steps.
Yes, I didn't think one 6 week course would be enough - they seem to have 3 courses and then a few electives.

Good point about the trying in different environments, I will need to look into what environments CKC/SDDA use. Maybe practice at home, in the field we use, and at a few relatives homes, sheds, barns? Vehicle search my dad's ATVs/riding lawmower and the snowblower?

Maybe if I took one or two I'd be able to jump into a higher level course to improve skills once things are FINALLY running again (I had signed up for a scent class this fall and days later they cancelled it. That club doesn't run classes in the summer and cancelled all their spring classes due to covid. I am guessing September before they will run classes again).

I am very jealous of the online AKC rally titling system. I really wish the CKC would do something similar or would count US titles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well - we signed up and class started today ! Man, that poodle of mine is fast at learning!

Unfortunately, the switch boxes they recommend I can't find in Canada, and the boxes I wanted to use haven't arrived from Amazon... so we improvised. Annie is already sticking her nose in the box to find the scent and learning NOT to paw the box. I am a bad student, and skipped ahead a bit and added a second box without scent to see what she would do. She caught on really quickly to look for the box with the scent, not the empty one as I kept moving the boxes around. I'll go back and do more of the middle step exercises for this week - tomorrow.

Me using bowls to put the scent boxes in, forgetting that I had previously taught her to knock at bowls with a foot to get kibble was NOT helpful. The clicker really helped with sorting things out.

So far having fun :)
 

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Take care to follow the sequence correctly. It's very important to have a dog that checks every box.

I'm curious to know how your on line course goes. I hope you post weekly about how it's going.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Take care to follow the sequence correctly. It's very important to have a dog that checks every box.

I'm curious to know how your on line course goes. I hope you post weekly about how it's going.
I will try to do weekly updates. That should also keep me accountable. So far the course seems very good, with videos of what they are looking for and good descriptions, several lessons or subparts to each lesson per week.

Right now we are just supposed to be working on getting them to be interested in the scent and starting on an indication, but since I am using a bowl to put my container with scent in, I wondered if she was noticing the scent, or was just going off the long history that bowl = food. Back to doing things correctly (to the extent of my ability with my equipment) tomorrow now that I am sure she has figured out that it's the wintergreen that means yummy food, not just bowl = food.

Last fall I was trying to teach her to knock a bowl with her nose or foot to get me to refill it, and for a while I think she was confusing the two behaviours.

Edit - I did another round with Annie, and played with Trixie too. Trixie was shockingly good at it! It took her longer to figure out the "game" of sticking her head in the bowl than Annie, but very quickly she started being incredibly enthusiastic. I was able to run across the floor, set down the bowl, and she was shoving her nose in. For a very nervous dog who took months to teach "down", this was pretty amazing. I will definitely be working with Trixie too!
 

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Fenzi classes are terrific! If you are taking N101S at the Bronze level, make sure you join the student group on Facebook, if you haven't already. There is a Teaching Assistant who is very helpful, and you can create your own homework thread for feedback from her.

The TEAM titles (both scent work and obedience) are more about testing your training and handling than testing your dog, if that makes any sense. The levels are very specific about how searches are set up, and each search is designed to help your dog and you learn something specific, like thresholds, working corners, etc.
 

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I hope you got the correct container - you don't want to confuse her.

I had trained Babykins using a clicker to step on a light and a musical instrument for tricks on her AKC trick titles. Then I was shown how to train my dog using a clicker for dumbbell retrieve (exercises in Obedience in Open). My dog saw that dumbbell, saw the clicker and she immediately stepping on it - everyone laughed but it took me a while to train her to stop pawing it when she retrieves it. If you see something you trained causing confusion - find another way to train it. Eventually when your dog is understanding how to work you can add in that bowl as part of a search area but I would avoid it to begin.
 
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I'd say online classes don't fully prepare you for trials. Here's why:
  • The scent might be different from what judges use because of how you store it. Your dog might get confused when it was stored in the judges house instead of your shelf
  • Your vessels might have a particular scent
  • Your own scent might be on the vessel and the dog is realy looking for your scent instead of birch
  • You don't have strangers and other dogs running the search before you getting slobber all over the place
  • You can't run blind searches by yourself
  • You're lacking the situation where strangers (classmates) are watching you and that'll make you and your dog nervous
  • You can't run container searches in indoor areas that are usually used for dog training/shows

But you/your dog can learn a lot from online classes, and then you can take just a few weeks in person lessons to work on blinds/other people setting the hides/dog slobber and then you can compete.
 

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I don't think anything can actually prepare you for a trial, other than trialing. That said, there have been quite a few FDSA students who have successfully trialed in a variety of organizations without ever having taken an in-person class.

Concerning blind hides, I've always been told that most of your training should be known hides.

And I can tell you that few things are more nerve wracking than having a police officer asking what you are doing when you are training in public. That's enough to darn near give you a heart attack. Plus, I've found that lots of random strangers, including security patrols, wind up watching you when training in public. More than one person has thought I was training police detection dogs.
 

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I'd say online classes don't fully prepare you for trials. Here's why:
  • The scent might be different from what judges use because of how you store it. Your dog might get confused when it was stored in the judges house instead of your shelf
  • Your vessels might have a particular scent
  • Your own scent might be on the vessel and the dog is realy looking for your scent instead of birch
  • You don't have strangers and other dogs running the search before you getting slobber all over the place
  • You can't run blind searches by yourself
  • You're lacking the situation where strangers (classmates) are watching you and that'll make you and your dog nervous
  • You can't run container searches in indoor areas that are usually used for dog training/shows

But you/your dog can learn a lot from online classes, and then you can take just a few weeks in person lessons to work on blinds/other people setting the hides/dog slobber and then you can compete.
BabetteH, the scents used are natural oil products. There’s a lot of variation between not only different companies but because they are plant based, different plants can be variable due to growing conditions (maybe one year was rainy, next was dry or more sun etc). So even when you are careful to use the correct species, for example birch is “Sweet Birch (Betula Lenta)” there is still variation. In addition when judges and teachers prepare fresh odor there general descriptions on how to prepare the qtip. I’m a scientist used to laboratory protocols for preparing reagents using precision equipment with QC checks on both equipment and reagents to ensure reproducibility. Preparing scent for a trial is more akin to a home cook remembering a recipe they learned years ago. Plus the way some organizations prepare their scent (AKC and CPE) is far stronger than other organizations such as Cwags and NASCW.

AKC requires 2 drops of oil on a qtip. What they don’t tell you is exactly how much is in a drop. There’s different kinds of droppers that can be used to dispense oil and they may be sized to dispense different amounts. Then each person may squeeze a little more or less. This is not particularly accurate.

If you are serious about competing in nose work, you should vary the preparation of your scents that you train with so your dog is prepared for trial.

Same with scent vessels, vary them. Dogs trained only with metal tins may associate the metal smell as part of the odor search. Use plastic tubes/straws and other small clean containers. If you find random things to buy or repurpose as a scent vessel then your dog will be better prepared.

I started out wearing nitrile gloves when workin with the scent and hiding it and removed them when running my dog. Now I don’t bother, she knows what to look for. AKC has Handler Discrimination where the dogs are specifically searching for the owners scent. We have Qs in novice but no one near me offers it in trial so I stopped training. However my dog know to find my scent on scent articles for Obedience Utility. It’s not a problem k they are smart enough to tell the difference. I some have my husband hide vessels and the neighborhood kids get a kick out of hiding vessels. You can ask friends to help you.

As for dog’s slobber and other distractions, go train in a park near where dogs potty. You can also ask friends to have their dogs slobber on containers that you use to search. You can prepare for that without a trial.

I do run blind searches because to fully prepare myself for trials where there is anywhere from no hides to X number of hides. I need to work the problem through in my head of how my dog is reacting.

However the great majority of my hides are known, including knowing where a distraction is because I need to fully read her body language when she’s searching. Dogs can vary how they search based on how hungry they are, how strong the scent is, if it’s an accesible hide, maybe something is making your dog uncomfortable such as a 5’ hide on a mirror wall where they are having to jump up on a slippery surface while seeing themselves in the mirror. Maybe there stress on the hide because it’s on a vacuum cleaner or wheelchair or in a narrow space where the dog can’t turn around. I need to see what my dog does with a distraction and I never want to treat a distraction thinking it’s a hide.

During a trial no other dogs are anywhere near the area or in the building. NaSCW doesn’t allow peopl in to watch, only those judging and assisting. Other organizations may allow people to watch behind a gate silentl. This is very different from other dog sports like Rally and Obedience where all the dogs and handlers may be crating in the same building, even right up against the gating to the ring.

Most Nosework organizations do hold trials in the same buildings as classes and other trials are held. Often the exterior search is where dogs normally potty between classes. Clubs will try to mark areas a week before a trial and ask people to potty elsewhere But there’s always some one who ignores the request. Nose work classes are stopped a week or two before a trial to air out residual scent.
 

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And I can tell you that few things are more nerve wracking than having a police officer asking what you are doing when you are training in public. That's enough to darn near give you a heart attack. Plus, I've found that lots of random strangers, including security patrols, wind up watching you when training in public. More than one person has thought I was training police detection dogs.
I was a demo dog team along with a police officer for nose work 2 years. It was a fundraiser dog festival. We demonstrated nose work and rally.

It was fun because the audience was surprised how quickly my dog found 3 hides. We had boxes, chairs and agility equipment in the ring. They were expecting the odor to be in the boxes, it it was under chairs and the a frame. They weren’t expecting her to go under chairs or stand up under the A frame. The police canine officer was impressed. He then demonstrated with his dog. They also demonstrated his dog attacking another officer wearing a special padded suit. Scary, my dog could never attack that that GSD did.
 

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I was a demo dog team along with a police officer for nose work 2 years. It was a fundraiser dog festival. We demonstrated nose work and rally.

It was fun because the audience was surprised how quickly my dog found 3 hides. We had boxes, chairs and agility equipment in the ring. They were expecting the odor to be in the boxes, it it was under chairs and the a frame. They weren’t expecting her to go under chairs or stand up under the A frame. The police canine officer was impressed. He then demonstrated with his dog. They also demonstrated his dog attacking another officer wearing a special padded suit. Scary, my dog could never attack that that GSD did.
I saw some videos several years ago of a SPoo doing bite sports. In a full Continental clip, no less. :)
 
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I saw some videos several years ago of a SPoo doing bite sports. In a full Continental clip, no less. :)
I do know someone who does it with her poodle, but not in a full Continental clip - that is something to be seen.
 
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