Author Topic: Xena's scent article breakthrough  (Read 1064 times)

BoxerWB

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Xena's scent article breakthrough
« on: February 15, 2012, 08:35:16 PM »
Background:  There are two popular methods of training articles. Around the Clock is where you put the scented article in all clock positions relative to the other unscented articles.  Tie-down is where you buy some peg board and all the unscented articles are tied down with thin string so the dog can't bring you the wrong article - they can pick it up for a couple of inches, then the string pulls taut.

Xena and I hit a brick wall with articles that I just wasn't sure how to clear.  I finally found the solution about 5 weeks ago and it's been such a relief. 

This is a long post, but I couldn't think of a short way to describe this journey. :-)  The shortest explanation is that I should have remembered that Boxers are "honest" dogs and listened to what Xena was "saying" to me.  It certainly would have saved me some time and mental angst!

We started out using a modified Around the Clock, but Xena seemed worried and my trainer was concerned about her lack of confidence. She was audibly sniffing and looking for the scent, but a couple reps in she'd get nervous.  My trainer suggested slowing way down to build her up.  I was to use just one unscented metal article and scented metal article - then place the two articles in every possible position/angle to each other, so Xena would get use to variation while still having an "easy" job.

It started out OK, but once I put the dumbbells in a position where the unscented one was in the way of "retrieving" the scented one, forget it.   I was only doing a very mild "ut oh" correction when she got it wrong, but after a few sessions with failures, her eyes practically glazed over if I put down an article.  She isn't the type of dog to shut down, but that's what she started doing. She even started pushing into my legs instead of going to the pile. She did NOT understand or like this game.

Then I bought a pegboard for tie-down, knowing she wasn't a fan of strange objects/surfaces, but that I HAD to change something.  She started out humoring me though she obviously wasn't thrilled.  The first time the unscented article was in retrieve position, she grabbed it.  When the string pulled taut, she acted like the board was playing a very nasty trick.  No shock, but I was hoping that removing my correction from the equation would help.  Back to the drawing board.

So I went back to the two article setup and started watching her.  She was fixating on the unscented article while I was scenting the right one.  I'd try to have her watch me while I "heated" the article, but as soon as I stepped away, I'd see her head drop and she'd stare at the article that was already on the floor.  And it struck me that when we were doing the (original) modified ATC, she would actually sniff the pile rather than retrieving, so maybe the single article on the floor was confusing her.

I switched it up and along with making sure I was REALLY happy and upbeat, I started putting 3 unscented articles down.  I figured that was just enough that she wouldn't think it was a retrieve and fixate on one. BINGO!  She immediately went back to sniffing the pile like she had before.

She's gained enough confidence that now she can walk into/trip on her articles and doesn't get spooked.  She's even tipped the scented one end over end when she was sniffing vigorously and wasn't even phased.

And she hadn't missed an article until last night, but that was barely a speed bump, she recovered so well. It was the first time I put out a leather article and she was convinced it must have been significant.  Thankfully, I was able to quietly say "no" and she dropped it, went straight back to the pile and sniffed out the right one!  :thumbsup: 
Julia
Delta 03/12
Dash 07/06
Shady 07/05
In my heart: Xena 03/10/03 - 02/16/12

Rubidawg

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2012, 10:42:18 PM »
That's awesome!!! Great job Xena and you too for figuring it out. I'd love to work with Rubi on articles, I think she would actually enjoy it. I worried about working with Grady at that stage. I think he'd get anxious like Xena. I think he'd get annoyed by the mutliple articles trying to confuse him....and the pegboard....he'd get frustrated at trying to pull off the right one. We haven't even gotten close to working to that yet, but glad you figured what works for Xena.

This is why I LOVE training boxers. They are so "unconventional" when it comes to training. You have to figure out what they are telling you and work around that. It's actually helped me while teaching new students in Rally different things. When they hit a wall in their own training with their BC or aussie or sheltie, I'm like...."oh hey, forget all you were told before - do this" and they are shocked when it works. LOL Boxers seriously are the best and most fun to train. I do love that challenge in them.
Dawn
Rubi, CGC - 2.16.05
Bauer - Rocket's Kindred Spirit RN CGC - 4.16.12
Ms. Kitty - 3.15.02
Forever In My Heart: Grady, Branwen's Northern Sky BN RA CGC - 12.22.07 - 5.25.12

Missy/Precious mom

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2012, 10:00:48 AM »
 :thumbsup:  Grat job both of you
Joyce

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2012, 12:27:17 PM »
I am glad to hear you found a way around your problem. I can't wait until I try teaching scent articles to Trigger.......

Actually after the Denise Fenzi seminar I went to I think I am going to try using those altoid cans with food/no food as a starter method for both Trigger and Skye and see how they do with that, before deciding what to do next. But she did say that scent articles are a lot harder to teach adult dogs - it is way easier to teach puppies since they have a lot more confidence and generally don't care about whether they are right or wrong.
Her suggestion on how to train is to take 2 tins - fill one with food and this one is also scented, put down 2 tins and let the dog pick. If they pick the wrong one - just open it and show them nothing inside. When they pick the right one open and let them eat the treat. When they have that down you move to one scented with food - and a whole bunch of others tin - and see if they can do that.
She said to teach anything that requires decision making on the dog's part (i.e. a lot of the utitlity stuff) is best taught to puppies - because once an adult dog wants to please you, it is hard to teach them these things because they dont want to be wrong.

Anyway, I will let you know when i get there what happens.
Kerry
Mom to Skye, Trigger, Leia and Lizzy
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3BOXERS

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 03:08:34 PM »
 :thumbsup: WTG!

Bruins_Boxer

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 03:40:19 PM »
 :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Missi
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BoxerWB

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 06:28:51 PM »
I'm glad I took the time to sit down and write this post last night.  I don't know if I could have after today, but I know it will help remind me of what a great teacher she was and how much I enjoyed being her teammate.
Julia
Delta 03/12
Dash 07/06
Shady 07/05
In my heart: Xena 03/10/03 - 02/16/12

Bruins_Boxer

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Re: Xena's scent article breakthrough
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2012, 08:34:07 AM »
 :group:
Missi
Edy - Bruin's Espresso by Stephlyn , CGC    5-2-2006
Remy - Bruin's One Step Closer    7-27-2010

Gone but never forgotten Mocha , Titan , Charlotte .