Monday, February 29, 2016

Who loves Nose Work class?!

I love, love, love that our Nose Work Instructor Erica Wells offers Nose Work classes at all kinds of fun locations.  All of the locations give me a good sense of what Catty and I need to work through in terms of the environment.  It also really preps me to not feel overwhelmed with what a trial site may look like.  

Here are some of our past class adventures with Erica:

With spring in the air, I was really excited for our class at Swansons Nursery since there would no doubt be some fun stuff to look at!

"Where is Erica? I'm ready to get searching!"

Class hasn't started and Catty says "Erica are we doing a vehicle search"

I tell Catty that we are not doing vehicles this is an exterior search class...

"Oh mom, are you sure? I'll check and see"

"You were right, no odor to be found"

We make our way to the front of the nursery

"Look at  me up here!"

Lookin good Catty girl!

No more messing around - it's time for class!

Erica lets us know the exercise and what we are working on today.  Once you get to the Nose Work three level, this is way more of a team sport.  No more just blindly flowing your dog around!

Here is our first search area and it's so large that I wasn't able to get the whole area in the picture. Again this is what I love about our classes as it  builds my confidence as a handler that we can work a large area like this and be successful.

Here are a number of videos of this parts of this search. 

This was one search and we had a time limit of 4 minutes to find as many hides as possible. During the search we have a "caddy". The caddy's job is to help the handler if they see a change in behavior of the dog (that the handler missed), point out if the handler missed something else as the search was going on and/or if the handler didn't cover the whole search area.  It was an excellent exercise and I look forward to doing it again.  

This one made me laugh - you can see me biff into the tree and Catty keeps on searching and finds the odor. Good girl Catty way to ignore the dork at the end of your leash.

This was a great example of the environmental progress Catty has made thanks to Nose Work.  See those kids in the background.  Catty isn't fond of kids - their unpredictable movements and how loud they often are cause Catty to feel upset.  In the past Catty may have barked at lunged at the kids. But, she is able to work through the stress, ignoring the kids and working to find the odor.
Even with Catty working through the kids being around she was stressed and I knew that and that little look at me that she does in the first part of this video is a stress look.  But, she keeps working and finds the odor.  She's rewarded and told over and over what an amazing girl she is!

Next search area...

No video this time and Catty was a rock star.  Same exercise with a 4 minute search and a caddy.

So many pots and the layout of them was real fun to navigate!

She's onto odor

"I'm coming for you"




The odor was dropped down the hole of the upside down pot.

Both Catty and I have a great time in this search area

Class is over and time to wander around the nursery. 

Catty has made huge environmental strides thanks to Nose Work and Erica's classes at different locations. By the time class was over the nursery was a busy place and Catty wasn't bothered by the hustle and bustle.

"What is this thing?!"

"It opens and closes"

Catty was fascinated by the door and time to move on through

Lots of colorful items!

We wander through the rest of the nursery and then head back to the car to head home!

Fun class, great location and lots of learning!

What did Catty do the rest of her day...

Tired happy girl!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

D'light working hard on increasing his confidence in new enviroments

We headed out for our Nose Work class that was at Swasons Nursery.  I'll be talking tomorrow about the awesome class that Catty and I had.  I arrived extra early and brought D'light along so that we could walk around this new environment. Arriving right when they opened also meant very few people at the nursery which was what I wanted.  

We've done a lot of environmental work with D'light over the years and we are starting to expand that work into "busier" new places. This is delicate as we don't want to overwhelm D'light but, we are working at helping him to stretch a bit more in new environments.  What is stressful for D'light is the pressure of and in the environment.  This means that if there's too much noise or too much activity he has to give his full attention to assess the environment for safety.  He also struggles with social pressure - too many people around cause him worry.  Of course I know the environment is safe and I will always advocate for him around people but, he doesn't have the confidence to trust this.  So, we are working at building trust and confidence while carefully choosing the environment to work in.  With D'light I always have a back up plan of leaving if the pressure is too much for him.  D'light defines what is too much not me.  So it's really important for me to pay attention to his body language and to not have him stay in a challenging environment for too long. This working session lasted about 15 minutes which was plenty of time.  

We head in and this is a fantastic nursery!

We find this amazing Daphne that smelled heavenly

Love the flowers!

Here's the information on this deciduous Daphne

"Who are you all?"

D'light wasn't so sure about the automatic doors. I waited to see what he wanted to do next.  D'light and I have a very strong relationship with lots of trust built up over the years.  If he doesn't want to move forward I won't make him and if he needs some support from me (talking to him, doing some touch with him) to feel safe I will do that for him. I let him take the lead in these adventures as that's important for him and for me in being able to see what he is telling me.

He moves forward

And inside we go.  I have high value food with me and he was rewarded for moving forward. A good sign that he took the food - often times he won't take any food if he is stressed.  You can see from his ears that this was a challenge for him to make this move forward, through the doors.

Inside we find an amazing Koi pond and no one around which is perfect.

"Mom, check this out!"

Both D'light and I were amazed by the Koi!

Silly fish come right up to you and there's a sign that say not to feed them.

We move on and slowly wander through the nursery.  D'light is doing great and he's curious about what is all around him.

Lots to investigate 

Look who we find! It's Erica our Nose Work instructor. 
D'light says "Hi Erica, I haven't seen you in a while!"

D'light has been on break from Nose Work for over a year. Erica and I decided that he needed a break as he was showing signs of stress when doing Nose Work.  The stress was due to the social pressure of the environment so it was time to work on feeling safe in the environment.  

As Erica and I were gabbing Erica says "Look at D'light"...


Yup sweet boy alerted on the odor that was down and inside this bench.   This is called and inaccessible hide.

"Yummy treat and thanks Erica for telling mom to look at me!"

Erica and I talk a bit more about sweet D'light as he takes in the environment.

We move onto more of the nursery and going through this door was easy peasy.

So much to explore

Curious boy and this is really, really wonderful to see.

"This was a pretty cool place!"

This was a really good outing for D'light and time to go back to the car as Catty is ready for class!

"Mom says we are going to do more environmental work like this so keep watching for how I do!"