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Making Cocktailed Hides

Photo disposable pipettes

Once your dog is searching for odor, you’ll need some hides in order to practice nosework at home. (A “hide” is the package of target odor inside a ventilated container that is hidden in the search are for the dog to find e.g. pre-scented piece of blotting paper inside a metal tin or a cotton swab inside a sticky envelope.) The photo shows disposable pipettes, which help to efficiently create cocktailed hides.

Making Cocktailed Hides

A “cocktailed” hide contains multiple odors. The target odor Hunter’s Heart usually uses is a cocktail of 3 essential oils: Birch, Anise & Clove. (Other cocktails are possible e.g. Wintergreen, Pine & Thyme.)

When making cocktailed hide, it is very important to place a separate drop of each odor onto a piece of artist’s blotting paper. (Cotton swabs aren’t large enough to keep the drops separate.) Never combine the odors into a liquid soup, as they will interact in a chemical reaction and produce unpredictable, unreliable results.

Since creating cocktailed hides is time consuming and uses disposable items, I generally create 50-250 pieces of blotting paper in a single session. When stored appropriately, these should last for months of daily training.

Required supplies

  • Hide container(s) labelled with target odor it will contain e.g. metal tin with holes labelled “BAC” for Birch/Anise/Clove cocktail
  • 3 essential oils
  • Small pieces of blotting paper (Buy large sheets of blotting paper at art supply stores. Cut with scissors. Each piece should be about the size of a match stick, but you don’t need to measure. There must be sufficient room on each piece of paper so that the Birch, Clove and Anise drops remain separate.)
  • 3-5 disposable plastic pipettes e.g. 5 ml capacity (available from chemical or geological testing companies)
  • 3 sets of disposable nitrile gloves (available from Princess Auto, Home Depot)
  • Tweezers
  • Paper towels and garbage bag
  • Optional: parchment baking paper or wax paper to protect your work surface.

Instructions – This example uses 3 oils Birch, Anise & Clove.

  1. Wash your hands. Put on a pair of gloves, then put on 2 more pairs on top of it.
  2. Work in a room where dogs don’t go, on a non-porous surface. If you want to protect the surface, parchment paper or wax paper work well. Set up all your supplies. Place all the pieces of blotting paper out flat.
  3. Open the jar containing the first odor e.g. Birch. Wipe off any excess liquid that may have leaked around the rim. (Note that you will be able to smell the odor, indicating it is sufficiently strong.)
  4. Insert a clean disposable pipette into the oil. Squeeze the bulb to expel the air, and then the suction will draw up 5 millilitres of oil. (It is critically important never to put anything into your odor which may contaminate it.)
  5. Place 1 drop of Birch oil on the left of each piece of paper. (If you use up all of the oil in your pipette, you can only reinsert it into your birch oil if you are positive it is clean and uncontaminated. If you are not absolutely sure, it’s better to throw it out and usea new pipette to draw up more oil to prevent contamination of your entire supply of Birch oil.)
  6. When all pieces of paper are done, throw the pipette in your garbage bag. Wipe off the rim of your birch jar with paper towel and close it tightly. Clean up any messes.
  7. Now that you’ve finished with that odor, remove the top pair of gloves to reveal the clean pair underneath.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 using Anise, placing 1 drop on the middle of the piece of paper. (Remember NOT to use the pipette that held Birch to draw up Anise, or that jar will be contaminated.)
  9. Repeat steps 3-7 using Clove, placing 1 drop on the right side of the piece of paper
  10. Now you should have 3 drops of oil on each piece of paper, use tweezers to put the paper into your labelled storage or hide container.
  11. Put garbage and gloves in the labelled bag. Seal it and dispose in a garbage bin that dogs cannot access.
  12. Open the window if necessary to ventilate the room.
  13. Wash your hands with soap and water. (The mechanical action is responsible for cleaning your hands, and minimizing contamination.)

Questions or comments? Let us know.

About carlalsimon (75 Articles)
Dr. Carla Simon is a Scent Detection Instructor, Judge, and President of Sniff Alberta. She’s been breeding and training working hunting dogs under the world-renowned prefix Hunter’s Heart since 1999, as featured in the Pointing Dog Journal, Dogs in Canada, Clean Run and American Brittany magazines. Follow her Blog at: https://nosework.huntersheart.com

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