Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Viva rocks Nose Work class - Part 2

In case you missed it, here's Part 1 of Viva rocks Nose Work class

Some things we figured out when searching in the larger area.  1) Viva at this point, feels safer on leash in the larger area.  This makes sense given how much leash work the two of us do and having that leash attached gives her some support   2) Viva does better if we secure the perimeter.  Meaning, she and I basically walk a circle of the area so that she can confirm all is ok.

This is what's so wonderful about Nose Work - every dog has a different experience and for the most part we can always support what works best for the dog. This includes being on or off leash, adjusting the level of difficulty in locating the food and of course managing the environment by size and what's in the environment.
Viva does well in this large search area and for the most part isn't bothered by the people watching us work.  We are currently working without any visual barriers.  Again we were able to do this because of how Kathy set up the environment for Viva to have success and feel safe.

It may not seem like much but, think about all this odd stuff that is in the search area.  Lots of stuff that dogs don't experience.  Viva is doing great with all the odd items in the environment.  Again another great benefit of Nose Work class - positive exposure to out of the ordinary items while the dog is searching for food.

After a couple classes in the above search area we move to a new area
Lots of new stuff in the environment and lots of past dog smells!  Just check out all that agility equipment.  You can see that Viva is bothered by the noise of the roll up door.  What's great is that while she is bothered, she is able to move through the worry and continue to search for the food.
Same search area and Viva is doing great!
During another class we find other things in the environment to work through with Viva.
A crate that clearly smells like dog - watch her sniffing it, you can see her taking in all the information about what's been in or on that crate.  There's no food placement on that crate - it's just dog smell.  Good girl to be able to move on.  As Viva moves on she catches the smell of food and goes up to see if it's on top of the box.  We then have a stress shake off and she finds the food trail by the roll up door that she was apprehensive about in our last class. 
Next search and clearly the environment is uncomfortable for her.  It wasn't just one thing, it was a number of things that quickly stacked and while we do our best to manage the environment we can never be 100% in making it comfortable.  And there are times like this where we say "Wow, didn't see that coming".  In this search it was likely the noise that was happening in the environment, items in the area, the light coming through the door in the distance, a person coming in that door and a person watching us.   We did find out that Viva didn't like the light coming through he door - it was casting a weird shadow on the wall and that bothered Viva.  We've seen this behavior before - the way the light reflects on the walls can be upsetting to her.  I don't know why that is but, it's just more information to hold and think about with Viva.
Again, I do believe it was a quick stacking of all of this that upset Viva.
So, Kathy has us step away and she adjusts the environment and Viva does a great job of searching and finding the food.  Again, whether its a Nose Work instructor or a trainer it's very important to have guidance from someone who understand body language, positive training, how the environment impacts a dog and how to set the dog up for success.

We've made a lot of progress in a pretty short amount of time (a 6 week, 1x a week, hour class) thanks again to the care and thoughtfulness of Kathy Weaver our Nose Work instructor.  Viva and I have signed up for another round of class where we will continue to only search for food while working with everything in the environment.  Again the beauty of Nose Work is that you can move a pace that works for your dog!

Viva says "I'm ready to search!"



  1. Excellent work, Viva! Looks like she's making progress. And hooray for nose work! Stewie is on week three of his nose work class and it's really something to watch him...who knew that letting the dog work at his own pace and make his own choices would be so important?

    1. I am so excited to hear you and Stewie are in week 3 of nose work class! So much fun for both of you!!