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Good luck with the run through! Is it in a familiar space?

Our trainer in the novice class wants to work on more advanced exercises, too. He asked about our experience with dumbbells and jumps. How did you know what size and material for the dumbbell works best for your dog?

I'll go back to reading the obedience rules for open and utility. What other items do I need? Dumbbell for retrieve, jumps (for training). But I also need a set of identical dumbbells and "gloves", right?
 

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Discussion Starter #682
I had a hard time getting the right sized dumbbell for Noelle. I started with an off the shelf extra small plastic dumbbell. But, being a poodle, Noelle has a long nose. She kept hitting her face on the floor and decided it was easier to pick the dumbbell up by the bells. My trainer suggested a bigger dumbbell. So I got a small. Well, the small dumbbell was too heavy, the stick was too long, but the bells were the right size. That was not working either. I had a custom dumbbell made a few months ago. It's basically a mashup of the two: gigantic bells, tiny stick. Noelle picks it up correctly now.

Ask your trainer what size to get. That's what I ended up doing before I had one custom made. As far as utility, you'll need three white gloves and scent articles. I got itty bitty wood and leather scent articles and Noelle really likes them.
 

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It is wise to train through utility before starting in open (even actually most really top level trainers teach all levels before starting to show and this is what I am doing with Javelin). You need a dumbbell and to size it either have your instructor help measure or use the guidance at supply vendors like Max200 Max200 Agility,Obedience, Trial Equipment, Obedience Training, Flyball Competition, Wood One-Piece Dumbbells | Leashes, Agility Tables, Tunnels, Dog Walks, Max 200 or Training Treasures About Us

I have articles and dumbbells from both of those vendors for both poodles, but settled on Training Treasures for Javelin's equipment. Be aware that the scent articles are hand crafted to order and take a long time (line about 6 months), so get them soon if you are really commited to going through. They were worth waiting for. I would suggest doing wood and leather, but your choice for scent articles are two of these three: leather wood or metal. Lily hated metal with a passion. If you are undecided about the materials for scent articles you can order one of each from Max 200 to test. Once you are sure about the materials for your articles get extras. You need five of each but for Javelin I have ten of each. Also just as an FYI nobody calls scent articles dumbbells (articles) and they don't have to be shaped like dumbbells. Before wood was an option I used mason jar rings for Lily's metals. I think she was having a galvanic reaction to aluminum articles. If dumbbell shaped scent articles should have the same bell (end) sizes but can have slighlty longer bits. One important part of sizing is that the corners of the ends of those items do not interfere with the dog's vision. You will also need gloves for the utility directed retrieve. I particularly like the gloves made by Anne Headings at Just Right Gloves https://www.justrightgloves.com/. She makes them to order by size and has many options for colors on the cuffs. And BTW Click the gloves don't have to be white I have seen people use light colored leather gloves (and no they don't have to be fabric just have to be actual gloves that someone could wear).
 

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Thinking of it now, BabetteH are you coming to the Suffolk Obedience Rally trial? I can show you the items I referenced if you will be there.
 

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Discussion Starter #685
I haven't started Utility, so I was going by the rules about the gloves.

"Section 10. Directed Retrieve. The principal features of this exercise are that the dog stay until directed to retrieve and that it complete the retrieve of the designated glove.
The orders are: “One,” “Two,” or “Three,” “Take it,” and “Finish.”
In this exercise the handler will provide three gloves that are predominately white."

I'll have to look at Just Right Gloves. I wonder if heavier gloves would make Noelle less likely to try and shake them to death.
 

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Thank you! Do the articles need to be dumbbell shaped? I don't want to travel around with 10 dumbbells if I could use small pieces of leather and small wood sticks instead.
No, they don't have to be "dumbbell" shaped, though that's what is most commonly available. I've seen leather bracelets and canning jar rings. I've heard about leather baby shoes and wooden children's blocks. The rules just specify the material and that they be numbered, not the form they should take. Rules say somewhere (I think) that they can be "common household items." Edited to add that they should be "proportional to the size of the dog."

Edited again, since I just noticed your last sentence. The dog has to be able to pick it up, so things that lie flat might be frustrating to the dog. You can certainly experiment with inexpensive items, and even show with them. My own scent articles are not particularly expensive (metal and leather), and I now have a set of 8 each.
 

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BabetteH buy your dumbbell from Max200. I followed their instructions to measure my dogs mouth carefully. I bought because I was told to buy, but my trainer didn’t help me measure and just told us to buy one with no help. I took it to another class and that instructor noticed it was a ltitle too wide. We tried their dumbbell and it fit So I had those measurements. I called Max200 and they were happy to take the dumbbell back and sent me the new one which was the correct size. Now that my dog is experienced with dumbbell retrieving she can retrieve different sized dumbbells but it helps to start with one that fits properly.

i got articles from max200 also based on the same size of the dumbbell. I waited too long to purchase the gorgeous ones that Catherine bought, even with Max200 I had to wait which is why I started with canning lids.

I did start training articles with canning rings. Babykins was happy to identify the correct ring based on my scent but she didn’t want to pick one up to bring it back. Plus I was having trouble getting numbers to stick to them for identification in a trial. I had considered wooden bracelets and leather bracelets or wrapping canning rings with leather for the leather articles But decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I have seen someone compete with square wood blocks and canning rings. Leather baby shoes are pricey. Most people buy utility articles probably because it’s easier.

As for the gloves. I have three sets, two were custom made. One set of custom was purchased on line and the other was made buy someone in my club. I prefer cotton sweatshirt material because they stand up more off the mat making then easier for my dog to see and pick up. The custom ones are smaller and nicer than the flat cheap ones from Max200. My dog is happy to drag around stuffed animals almost her size, including jumping on the bed with them. With gloves I wanted something that didn’t drag or flop so she could carry them neatly back to me.
 

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Click I have not seen how judges respond to slightly non white leathers in the ring and I would suggest small size flannel fleece for Noelle. They are not so floppy and neither of my dogs shakes them since they have a bit of body to them.

BabetteH the articles do not have to be shaped like dumbbells so long as all of the articles of one material are the same shape. The two sets don't actually have to be the same shape either.
 

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Funny enough, my pup found a glove on our walk yesterday. He proudly picked it up and carried it, even while peeing.

How do you handle the articles for scent discrimination? Do you avoid touching them during training or when you pack them etc? That seems complicated.
 

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Funny enough, my pup found a glove on our walk yesterday. He proudly picked it up and carried it, even while peeing.

How do you handle the articles for scent discrimination? Do you avoid touching them during training or when you pack them etc? That seems complicated.
Teaching scent discrimination has to be done very carefully. Dogs actually know scent discrimination innately but to show them how to work on their own but in the confines of the exercise is tricky. They have to understand and be encouraged to use their natural ability and keep their confidence while also having them be successful. I taught scent this summer to Javelin using a method called around the clock by Janice DeMello before moving his article pile onto a mat made of window screening. He loves scent and is very reliable in his search methods and understands his job very clearly. To read more about teaching scent start at post 383 on page 20 in my thread on Javelin's training. Javelin's road to ring ready! This link should take you to the correct page in that thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #692
Dogs enjoy using their noses, which is what makes the scent discrimination exercise so much fun to train and fun for the dog to do. However, Catherine is right. It's a little tricky to keep it fun for the dog and to have a high rate of success. Long before you get articles, I suggest you teach your dog to match a scent as a game. Get some small plastic containers with lids at the dollar store, and some eye make up pads. Poke a hole in the plastic container lids to let the scent escape. Scent two eye make up pads with a few drops of vanilla extract. Put one pad in a container and snap on the lid. Offer your dog the vanilla pad to sniff, and give a treat. Repeat sniff and treat several times. Next offer the dog the container with the vanilla scented pad inside with the lid on. Let them sniff the container and give a treat. Repeat. Then alternate between sniff the pad and sniff the container.

Put the plastic container with the scented pad on the floor next to an identical container without the scented pad. Offer the vanilla scented pad, then encourage your dog to find the right smelling container and reward richly. Add a third distraction container. Add a fourth. How many containers can your dog ignore and find the right one? Noelle got up to 15 containers. Add distraction scents like coffee and shampoo and soy sauce. Finding the right container leads to a treat. The match the scent game is fun. We played it a lot while I was training Noelle to be a diabetes alert dog. Only instead of finding vanilla extract, she was finding low blood glucose scent.

When we moved to actual articles, I started out giving Noelle my scent and one article to match my scent. I set her up with a 100% chance of success. I stayed with a 100% chance of success for several days before I tried to trick her with a fake choice. Noelle's tail almost wagged off when she realized it was possible to be tricked. Then I added a third article and so on until all articles were on the floor. Noelle zeroed in on the correct choice and has never made a mistake. I think setting the dog up to be 100% correct for a very long time helped Noelle learn what she was sniffing for. Also, having a long history of playing the match the smell game helped. I also learned a lot here: How to Train Scent Discrimination for Obedience Competition | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

There are as many different ways to train scent discrimination as there are dog trainers. This method worked for me and my dog. Play around with containers and finding scents, that way if you make a mistake in your training, you haven't created a situation where the dog hates your articles.
 

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Discussion Starter #693
So, we had our first Open run-through tonight. I learned a lot about where we are in our training. Heel free was lovely. The only problem I had was Dave wanted me to reward more often. Figure eight was a bit laggy, but overall Dave was pleased, so I was pleased.

Drop on recall has a proximity problem. Noelle thinks she has to be about six feet from me before she drops. We're going to work on that.

Retrieve on the flat was picture perfect. Retrieve over a "high" jump (a whopping 8 inches) went well. I ran to the jump and cheered her over and ran backward. Not trial ready, but an improvement. We're going to work on that, too. Broad jump, same. All of that needs more practice.

Command discrimination. We were in the far corner of the ring right next to agility. Dave had me stand my dog. She stood. I walked 15 feet and turned. Just as I turned, some kind of dog fight broke out. People started yelling. Complete chaos right outside the ring. I gave Dave a worried look. Dave said, "I don't care what's going on, down your dog." I took a deep breath and said, "Down." Instantly, Noelle folded down and didn't move her front paws a hair. I walked to the far opposite ring corner. Dave said sit your dog. I cued a sit. Noelle did a pop-up sit and her front paws never moved. She held her sit until I returned to heel position. Then Dave and I both went completely bananas cheering and playing with Noelle. I wish I was trialing that was so perfect. All that chaos and madness outside the ring gate, and in the ring right next to us, and she drilled those position changes. So proud of my dog!

Stand stay get your leash. I cued a stand. Noelle stood with her head facing my knee and her butt facing the wrong way. My dog cannot stand in heel position. Still, she stayed while I left the ring and got her leash and maintained her stand stay until I clipped on the leash. Awesome.

What went well:
Heeling, figure 8, retrieve on the flat, command discrimination, stand stay get your leash.

We need to work on:
Proper stands, drop on recall, taking the dumbbell over the jump, and the broad jump. We're not going to rush any of this, but take our time and work carefully. In a few weeks we're going to try another run-through. All in all, I'm pleased.
 

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@Click-N-Treat that sounds like a great run through! Seems like you just need a little more proofing and you'll do great!

Thanks so much for the explaination for scent discrimination. We've been doing Scent Work for a while now. We did primary only for almost 6 month and just started with birch. I know you have to be careful with odor, i.e., wear gloves, use tweezers, store the hot containers in a different room. But I was curious how you do this for your handler scent articles. Looks like I can put them in the fridge between practise so they're not contaminated the second I touch them to put them on my shelf?

This is probably a silly question, but once your dog is solid on scent discrimination, do you scent a different dumbbell in every training? Or do you have one that's always the hot one? For scent work, I labeled my containers as hot and cold, that's why I'm wondering. At a trial, does the judge pick which dumbbell you should scent? Or do you have 5 clean ones and one that's always scented?
 

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I totally don't get putting articles in the refrigerator. The refrigerator is full of complex scents! I never leave any articles even near my kitchen. I do cool down articles I have recently used but leave them in the bedroom away from food smells. BabetteH I truly hope you will look at around the clock. I have never seen a dog have article problems if around the clock was used as the foundation for this work. It teaches the dog to be very methodical in going around the pile. During around the clock you will use the same articles over and over. Keep them separate in a ziploc bag. Once you transition to the mat you will use one pair of articles two or three times then move onto another pair. Since the first pair will be cooling down for a while this is why you need extra articles.

At trials a steward will generally either pick the articles to be used out of your bag with tongs or they will ask you to take the articles out of the bag just before your run. Yes you will brush over other articles, but the purpose of the exercise is for the dog to find the article that is different. Two things help this happen. First as the steward puts out the pile they will touch all of the "incorrect" articles as they place them. Second you will add your scent as the hot scent in the process of the exercise. Interestingly I see more people overscent their articles than not. When I stewarded at obedience nationals articles were one of the exercises in the ring I worked in. The other ring steward was a judge plus there was the working judge. When dogs struggled at the pile the two judges commented a number of times that the article was too hot. Dogs indicated but wouldn't take the correct article and went around and around indicating repeatedly but not taking the article. Lily was prone to doing that too. For Javelin once I stopped using the squeeze cheese in around the clock I stopped using any scent other than my own. He is very reliable.
 

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Discussion Starter #696
Catherine you are so right, there’s no need to over scent the article by spinning it and grabbing it over and over. A quick rub is enough. I only gasp the bar for a second. Noelle knows what her nose is looking for. Too much scent can be a turn off.
 

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Discussion Starter #697
Back from training in Open. You know those times in the ring when you and your dog are in a mind meld? Tonight was one of those nights. It was just magical. Her retrieve on the flat tonight was the best I have ever seen. She rocketed to the dumbbell faster than I knew she could run, grabbed it, whipped around and brought it square in front. I can't believe this is the same dog who spit out the dumbbell and hated it. Now she just loves that thing! She got it over the jump, too. We have a long way to go before we'll be ready to show in Open, but if we keep having practice like this, I believe we'll get there. Together.
 
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