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11/05/2017 - Scent Work With Dogs

  1. Teaching your Dog to Retrieve & Search
  2. What is the WSDA (World Scent Dog Association) ?
  3. Why is Scent Training Beneficial to our Dogs and our Relationship with them?
I became a Trainer for the WSDA last year, at the minute WSDA Classes and Workshops are very popular with the dogs, their owners. I LOVE teaching it, and seeing the bonds between the dogs and owner strengthen week by week. The benefits of doing Nosework with your dog are endless to say the least, highly stimulating for the dog & Good Owners know this. The WSDA has given us so many great scent activities to do with our dogs and so much to get excited about!!!

WSDA is the World Scent Dog Association – an association that aims to train dogs up ready to compete in the ultimate scent competition: The Man Hunt. The Man Hunt is a new sport from the WSDA (World Scent Dog Association) and requires you and your dog to become a crime fighting team, competing at various levels to solve mysteries. At the highest level The Man Hunt competitions are themed and dogs are trained to participate in three areas of nose work, under pressure and with themed distractions. The course teaches participants both Passive and Active search Indications as well as Man-Trailing.

Join the WSDA Facebook group to keep up to date with any up and coming competitions and courses in your area..

The Passive Search
The handlers and their dogs work as a team. The dogs are taught to indicate on the scent of Napier Gun Oil, with a “Freeze” or “Point”. Then they will then take part in a number of different  searches, just like the professional search dogs, building on the searches by adding distracting Scents and Working in distracting environments.

The benefits of participating in any scent exercises with your dog are endless.
  • When participating in scent activities you are stimulating the most powerful sense the dog has, when searching the dog use’s its nose much more intensely as opposed to just sniffing. This means their brain has to work much harder when searching, tiring them out quicker.  Some wild dogs listen for their prey and look for their prey first, rather than just searching using their nose straight away, if they can get away with expending least energy possible they will and reserving it for other hunts or survival. If they have to use their powerful nose they are likely to need Rest and Water.
  • These type of searches will be very rewarding, stimulating to the dog and also very tiring.
  • It will give you tons of activities and exercises to do with your dog on rainy days or when physical exercise has to be restricted due to injury/recovery from an illness or when we don't have much space to work with.
  • Most of all we will be building understanding, strengthening the bond and relationship we have with our dogs and interacting with them with a scent activity will create a greater connection.
Active Searches
In the active search dogs and handlers are taught to search for catnip scented items, retrieve and deliver them to hand. Again the dog and handler are a team searching for missing items laced with the scent.  I love seeing the progress of the dogs and handlers at this point. In the early days many dogs came to this class and couldn't retrieve or wouldn't retrieve in the desired environment. Since then I have helped owners tackle the problems they where coming across. We used the method below to
build our Retrieves into Searches. If you come across an environment the dog struggles to perform a Search/Retrieve? I Suggest working through the earlier stages listed below.

3 stages. Pick a soft toy like a fleecy rope toy, something nice and easy for your dog to mouth and carry. Then..
  1. Show your dog the toy and activate it by making it move from side to side  and away from your dog, if your dog then starts to go for the toy throw it out in front. When he makes chase and picks up the toy, run away from him calling him back to you. Reward him with a high value (something your dog loves, really smelly and really tasty) treat in exchange for the toy.
  2. Hold your dog by the harness, throw the toy out in front and let it land. Once it lands and stops moving, send your dog out to get the toy, when he picks up the toy run away calling him to you. When he comes to you offer your hand down to him, when the toy is in your hand use a verbal marker of “yes” and feed him a high value treat.
  3. Ask your dog to sit and stay, go and place the toy out in front of him. Go back to your dog and send him out to retrieve the toy, again when he picks up the toy run away or backwards, calling him into you, offer your hand down, use your marker word of “yes” when the toy is in your hand and reward with a high value treat. It has to be a higher value exchange otherwise why would he want to give up the toy & why would he want to go out and do it again quicker unless he get paid a high reward.

Active Search / Retrieve
If your dog succeeds in all three stages you can then turn it into a search by placing the toy in a harder place to find, add in some dummy drops (pretend to hide the toy a few  imes before actually placing it). It is important to work your dog at a beneficial level so that they are regularly succeeding, don’t rush the stages or over work your dog, complete each one thoroughly before moving onto the next. Also consider your environment, if you have gone to a new environment and he starts becoming unsuccessful i.e. keeps breaking out of his sit stay or goes for a sniff instead, when you go to hide the toy? We would suggest reverting back a stage before gradually working
your way back up the stages in that environment. Just like the passive search, the active search gives you exercises to strengthen your bond with your dog, stimulating and understanding the power and reliability of the dogs nose I definitely believe participating in scent work with your dog will have positive effect on your dogs overall behaviour such as recall, reactivity and confidence and more . Dogs need a job, a job that stimulates their needs, especially Working and Gun Dog breeds, Spaniel’s, Lab’s ,Shepherd’s,
Collie’s, Hungarian Vizla’s, Big Bull Breed’s…..

If the only time the dog gets to enjoy stimulating their nose is when they are running free in the woods, 50+ yards away from their owner, sniffing many scents, and we don't do any kind of work with them?.. then they have officially gone “ Self Employed”. However if you are interacting with and you are “The keeper of the key to amazing games your dog enjoys” then you will hold more value to your dog than the environment.

How valuable do you think your dog would find scent work?

You can see how some of the various different dogs have been doing at this part by watching this video here …. YouTube - WSDA MAN HUNT - Active Searches at Chorleywood Dog Training. https://youtu.be/xrpvM5NyWtA

Man Trailing

The Last part your dog will take part in is Man Trailing, where the handler will now rely on the dog hunting down the “Criminal” in a wooded area. The “BAD” man will steal the dogs toy, run off , leaving a trail only the dogs nose will be able to detect, again the dog and handler work as a team. The dogs absolutely love this part and handlers thrive on watching their dogs Hunting down the bad man in the woods. We have watched all different breeds excel in this part of the sport, Jack Russell’s, Labs, Beagle’s, Spaniel’s, Staffie’s, Cocker-poo’s, Doodle’s, Shepherd’s and Big Bully Breeds.

The main reason I love WSDA is because its for absolutely everyone, any dog and any owner can take part, here at Chorleywood Dog Training we run 3 weekly classes working on the all 3 parts of the Competition and we have 3 workshops “The WSDA One Day” (4 Hour introduction to the sport), “The Active Search Training Day” (2 hour progression session) & “The Passive Search Training Day” (2 hour progression session). Take a look our website for Workshop dates here http://www.chorleywooddogtraining.co.uk/workshops/wsda---man-hunt---1-day/

Once you have done the workshop you can join our Chorleywood Scent Team in one of the Weekly Classes.

Owners Experiences
Last of all thought I would ask a few of the Handlers currently in the WSDA weekly classes to leave you a comment about their experiences participating in WSDA Scent  etection with us Last term.

“We commenced an agility course with Lincoln our young Portuguese Water Dog, who is an exceptionally lively, energetic boy. Agility was great fun but seemed to rev Lincoln up even more than he already is, which was not perhaps the best idea. Jamie suggested we give the Scent Course a try. What a great recommendation and what a difference.  Lincoln is focused, keen and willing to learn. He is like a changed dog, he loves it. The enthusiasm is still there in bucket loads, especially the man hunt exercise, but his concentration for the passive searching is so satisfying for us to witness and the active searches are a joy to watch as Lincoln is determined to succeed and totally on a mission. The course concentrates of 3 aspects and each aspect has great advantages for our dog, who is 20 months old and still crazy and puppy like. Passive – Lincoln actually concentrates and knows what is expected of him and he succeeds in this task.  Active – Lincoln is so keen and although his searching is slightly crazy and not as structured as perhaps it should be, he enjoys the task and gets it done without giving up. The jubilation and pleasure with the success finding the item is very satisfying for Lincoln and us.
Man Hunt – What fun this is for both owner and dog. Lincoln’s favourite game with a purpose.  After our Scent training afternoon, we have the pleasure of a very satisfied, calm and tired dog. I believe that the course is focusing on what dogs are meant to do. The enjoyment is plain for all to see. We would totally recommend this course, it has meant that Lincoln is now a willing student as he enjoys the tasks with a purpose and reward/goal at the finish. For us to see his success and his enjoyment is exceptionally fulfilling.
Huge big thanks to Jamie for the continual motivation.”

I decided to try Scent Detection with  Marvin as a complete change from all the 'Behaviour' Training. Marvin is a well behaved dog and I wanted him to enjoy our time at training. He particularly loves Retrieving and has done since he was a puppy. So to do this in a more disciplined way has been great for us both. We have found the passive searching harder but its good as it slows me down as well as Marvin. I think the bit that has been the most exciting for us both is when we have done the ‘Man Hunt' and the Competition at the end of the course.
It’s so much fun to see all the dogs enjoying themselves and doing what dogs do best ... using their noses. Marvin is always exhausted after our scent detection sessions so it just goes t show how hard their noses work.  Thanks Jamie for bringing us this wonderful course.

“Rosie is a lively Cockapoo and her training with Jamie has strengthened our bond even further and improved her behaviour. I have learned to adapt the training in classes to other situations, in a positive way.  The Scent Detection has given Rosie much more focus. She is a mixture of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle which are both working breeds that thrive from Scent Work and so she is harnessing her innate ability.
She absolutely loves the classes!”

“Myself and Woody are loving our scentwork with Jamie - It is varied, and fun, and helps Woody with his concentration - therefore calmness, even though he gets the chance to show his drive and excitement when the time is right! He's a clever boy and REALLY enjoys it. (Can't wait for Manhunt!)  It also gives us the tools to give more enrichment to our dogs' everyday lives, indoors, or out and about, by laying tracks, or hiding stuff for them to find along the way. It's great for our older dogs
who don't have the energy to do much physically but can use their noses and minds to find things around the house.  I think any training is good to increase the bond with your dog, especially since at Chorleywood our dogs are allowed to be themselves without being judged.”

“Bella (the spaniel) and I both totally enjoy our scent detection training. I can see she loves the challenges - showing me she can find the various smells and bring back the toys. I get a real kick from seeing her so happy and engaged and from figuring out how we can best work together. I feel it’s really strengthened our bond and has helped reinforce other aspects of training such as retrieve and sit/stay. And everyone should try man trailing as it's the best fun ever!”

“I'd been looking for a scent work class ever since I did a workshop when Toby was a puppy, because it was clear he has an excellent nose and loves to use it - I wanted to put some  connection and communication into his ability. What I have found:  A dog who would not retrieve for me is learning to do so.  He is gradually learning to become more focussed even in a highly distracting environment. He is always tired after class- even when it doesn't seem to me to have been particularly busy with activity - so it is clear that the scent work gets him using his brain. A few minutes practise is a great way of handling the after supper crazy half hour - he loves it because it means treats, and after a bit of brain work he is more ready to settle.”

“I love putting aside time to spend with sox that is outside the usual walk time and without trying to cram everything in. I love that it is new and challenging for both me and her nd I love going through the learning steps with her. It has made our bond much stronger and I think we both feel a genuine sense of achievement. Sox is an intelligent dog and needs to be kept active and I feel what we are leaning here is giving her an additional output for her energy. I am trying to take what we are learning and break up our walks with little bits of scent work and this makes the walks much more successful for us both. It also means that I don't feel so guilty about not walking for miles every day. Her behaviour has become much calmer and more focussed on me, which helps with the training. My favourite point so far has been the active search, recall as this is an area I've been struggling with for ages and it has really helped.”

‘"Scent detection is definitely a highlight of Bracken's week. The classes combine and develop the Grade 1 and 2 behaviours, build her confidence and drive in seen and unseen retrieves and have  begun to develop some passive searching skills. She loves the mental challenge and when things go awry it's usually me at fault! Working together
is fantastic for building our connection and teaching me to read and get the best out of her. We love it.’”

“Rodney and I enjoy the Scent detection because it is totally active for both parties. My dog Rodney is engaged the whole time because he is interacting with me to achieve his goal by finding a hidden treasures or person. I have become far more in tune with Rodney's reactions to cues and responses during the scent detection classes. Rodney's behaviour has improved 100% as he wants to go search and find. He loves the activities.  Rodney is totally absorbed in the man hunting in the woods and also the active pearches. He has become far more focused, further more he reacts well with all the dogs in this group because they are all busy in their searches and work as a team. He is becoming a very well mannered little chap.”

'Its great to work together with Bailey. The classes keep him engaged and you can see the concentration as he works to detect the object. It’s really important that we keep his brain ticking over and this helps to keep both his mind and body active!'

Jamie Pound - Chorleywood Dog Training