Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catty rocks Nose Work class at the Ballard Locks

I was super excited for our Nose Work class as the locks! It's a beautiful location with so much opportunity for amazing hides.  As I mentioned, now that we've resolved Catty's car sickness we are doing so much more and I couldn't be more thrilled.  We'd be working at Catty's car sickness for over 4 years and the fix was due in large part to Nose Work.  I'm glad we kept at trying to resolve this issue as it's opened up a new world for Catty and to the two of us as a Nose Work team.

We walk through the locks taking everything in.  It's beautiful brisk morning!

Lots to see and smell - this is a wonderful environment for Nose Work and for & us to work on her dog reactivity.

There were four dogs working during this class - we wait our turn by finding things to do and see.

Looking good Catty girl!

This was an active environment: lots of people (adults and kids), lots of strollers, lots of dogs and there were a number of locks worker dressed in outdoor working gear.  The working gear of big boots, carhartt type of clothes have been difficult for Catty in the past. Even with all of these triggers, Catty did excellent. Her ability to ignore all of this is due to the anticipation of Nose Work and the positive training we've done with her.

"Mom, I'm ready to get searching!"

We had 9 hides throughout the locks.  This was by far my favorite.

One hide and there's a lot in play. Basically the whole front of the building up to the stairs to each side of the stairs, the door and all that's in that entry.  

The hidden odor could be anywhere.... 

This picture was after the hide was found. I wanted a picture of the search area... when we were searching I was at the end of the leash

Catty rocked this search and found it very quickly .

Alert and she was 100% correct!  The hide is on the right lamp, lower spot where her nose is heading.

A 2nd hide on the other side of this very large building...

Alert!! And correct again - lower left corner of the iron grate.

Time for the other dog's turn.  We head out to walk around. Because of Catty's reactivity we do a lot of moving and I do a lot of reinforcing her good decision of ignoring other dogs.
When we adopted Catty, a dog a block away was way too close for her - she would lose her mind and not in a good way.  The progress that we've made over the past 4 years has been amazing and just goes to show that you can work through reactivity with a daily commitment to the correct training plan (We got on the correct plan about a year ago).

After I took this picture we did a u-turn as Catty didn't need to tangle with that flock of geese

Time for another photo shoot. She hopped up on this rock ready to be rewarded!

Cool play on color with the same picture

We hung out as dogs walked by - you can see the frost on the grass

There were a lot of dogs - some that were fine with seeing Catty and some that were pretty reactive.  With the reactive dogs we quickly moved back to give distance and then Catty was reinforced for making a good choice.
A shake off after seeing/hearing a very barky dog.

That experience was well managed and we moved to a quieter part of the locks.  I do not want to flood Catty with seeing other dogs so, getting some quiet time is part of our training plan.

We found another rock which was perfect. Catty jumped up on the rock and a treat followed - reinforcering her decision to practice this trick.  Finding the rock (I would have taken a bench too) that she could jump up and down from is easy for her, it builds her confidence and we have instant success.  We have canine conditioning equipment at home that Catty gets to work on so she can generalize this skill to really any environment. 
Getting away from the stimulus then jumping up on a rock may seem simple but, in doing a trick that she can quickly do it changes her emotional response.  She goes from being a bit worried from seeing the barky dog to focusing on me, feeling safe, having fun and getting a great treat.  We played this game for about 2-3 minutes and then it was time to catch up to class.

Off we went!  We didn't realize (because again you can't see odor) there was a hide in this picture.  The hide is to the right on the blue handicap button by the door.  After I found out there was odor here I realized that Catty had caught it when we were walking by.  She wanted to spend time sniffing around the plants - I just assumed it was pee mail.  Dog's noses are pretty amazing!  This was an excellent search area and a fun hide to work.

A great picture after the search
"Fun times! Ready for more searching!"

Not yet our turn so, time to watch the squirrels...

And more geese to watch.  She wanted to chase them but, I didn't think that was a good plan...


Then it was our turn and Catty did great!  The start line starts at the bike rack, goes all the way back the building and inside of the bushes (grass is in play).

This hide messed with my brain.  Catty did great and I over thought the hide - typical human!

The hide was in the hole of the green grate in front of the bike rack.

We had  two more hides and then time for a break.  We headed to the other side of the locks and got some more great photos!

We still have pretty fall colors!

Ready to play "find it" in the grass!

Watching all the activity and she's doing super!

Getting her sniff on...

Watching the seagulls

Giving a sit pretty while we wait

We walk over to watch the locks for our next search

Waiting outside the bathroom for the next hide.

Inside the bathroom was the search area and his was harder than I expected.  Erica is an excellent teacher and she did a great job of walking us through the hide and best of all... we used smoke matches to see how the odor was moving!

We had another search in a cool gazebo area but, I wasn't able to get pictures after the search due to so many people taking family photos in the area!

Class was over so it was time to walk around a bit more before we headed home.

"Lets go!"

Taking in the view 

Catty found lots of places that she wants Erica to consider as hides for our next class at the locks!

A couple more pictures on the way out! 

What a great class/morning and many thanks to Erica Wells for such a wonderful class full of positive learning experiences!
For anyone interested in Nose Work in the Seattle (Ballard, Georgetown or Lynnwood) contact Erica Wells

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