Welcome students! Hunter’s Heart is excited to offer scent detection classes, seminars and events at Kayenna Kennels, Calgary. Register at: https://www.kayennakennels.ca/scentdetection.
From bed bugs to birds, nosework to narcotics, we’ve helped hundreds of students internationally, including dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes. Whether you want to start training scent detection for fun, or you’re competing at the Elite international level, we’ll help you to succeed with our proven protocols.
For most of our events, the target odor is a cocktail of all 6 odors used in CKC Scent Detection competition (Wintergreen/Birch/Anise/Clove/Pine/Cypress), unless otherwise stated.
WHAT TO BRING TO NOSEWORK CLASS
- A hungry, energetic dog. Please do not feed your dog before class.
- Handfuls of non-crumbly, irresistible high value food rewards your dog loves most e.g. rotisserie chicken, wieners, or tuna fudge.
- However much food you think you need, double it.
- Vest or bait bag to store treats cut into bite sized pieces. You’ll need a place to store your treats so they don’t distract the dog but you can access them instantaneously to reward, without dropping any. I use a training vest. Many handlers use a bait bag. Deep pockets can work too.
- If your dog loves toys, bring 2-5 toys of equal, highest value (we’ll search for 1 toy and reward with the other). If your dog isn’t interested in balls or tug toys, try a food stuffed lotus ball (available for sale at the front desk)
- A buckle collar or tracking type harness MUST be worn during searches. (Ask us about available colors of Comfortflex sports harnesses.)
- Long leash, approx. 8-15 feet. I use a 10 foot long biothane leash. Leather is also very good, but nylon leashes will likely burn your hands.
- Dog poop bags for cleaning up
- Optional: clicker, water and bowl.
SCENT DOG TRAINING RULES
Please note that dog-dog interaction is never allowed at scent detection events. We’re committed to a safe, positive, environment that sets all the dogs up for success, and we can’t do that without your help!
- There is only one dog in the search area at a time
- Your dog must remain in your vehicle between searches. For dogs that won’t tolerate waiting in your car, indoors crates are provided on a first come first served basis, only to dogs that are silent and do not disturb other teams while working.
- Don’t let your dog sniff or greet another dog, and leave as much space as you can between dogs. If your dog is close enough to greet another dog, you’re way too close!
- Aggression towards people or dogs will not be tolerated, and may result in immediate dismissal without a refund.
If your dog is reactive or aggressive, these busy classes may not be conducive for your dog’s learning at this time. Ask us about private lessons.
BEGINNERS – FIND IT
Every dog can learn to find target odor. We’ll motivate your dog to search in our scent detection training lab, inspired by Andrew Ramsey. Rewarding properly is the key to motivating your dog to search! Watch: https://youtu.be/wC9MRR7ui70.
We’ll explain what to do at every step so it’s easy. Your dog will learn:
- Obedience to odor
- To search systematically
- To find the precise location of source (the highest concentration of odor), within 2-6 inches
- To move his nose as close to source as possible
- To stay at source and receive multiple high value rewards, until lured away.
There are no prerequisites for this course. We start our puppies as young as 5 weeks, using motivation and games so every dog can succeed. Puppies should have their second shots so it’s safe to attend classes in a busy training centre.
This course will prepare you to:
- Confidently search and find the precise location of target odor
- Control the environment so your dog never practices common undesirable behaviors that cause problems in higher levels of nosework.
Show Me Where Scent is Hidden
Once your dog knows how to find the source of target odor, we’ll teach him how to show you where it is using a trained formal response aka indication behavior. We train the indication away from odor using the dog’s favorite toy, inspired by the Scandinavian Working Dog Institute protocols. This proven method harnesses prey drive to indicate with intense focus, for up to 10 seconds, ignoring distractions around him.
Alternative options for training an indication on low hides include:
- Shaping a down using a wooden indication box (inspired by Dave Kroyer), or
- Using leash pressure to train the dog to freeze like a statue with attention focused at source.
Novice competition generally features low hides (up to 1-2 feet maximum). We recommend teaching and proofing an indication on low hides so it’s trained to fluency, before you train an indication on high hides.
ADVANCED – OUT OF BOXES
Once your dog is proficient at container searches, the next step is getting rid of the boxes. This course will introduce multiple hides, in blind Interior, Exterior and Vehicle searches, including high hides (2-4 ft) and thresholds. You’ll practice locating source (the highest concentration of target odor), within 2-6 inches. Unlike container searches, where you only need to pick the hot box, other searches require the handler to identify the precise location of source. For example, in a vehicle search, if source is at the top left corner of a license plate, the judge may fault or fail teams that indicate the bottom right corner. Successful practices will help build your confidence as a team.
Watch Zahra’s Exterior Search at: https://youtu.be/8dZbdkDeHuk.
PRETRIAL AND CERTIFICATION HANDLING CHALLENGES
Want to take your scent detection to the next level? Now that your sniffer dog is trained, your job as a handler is to get him where he needs to be to detect odor. You’ll learn to use airflow to plan systematic, efficient searches of large areas, under time constraints. You’ll train for converging hides, distractions, distance, unknown number of hides, speed, clearing rooms and new scent puzzles.
Challenges help to prepare you to succeed in the higher levels of international nosework competition, where teams are evaluated on their ability to:
- Bypass toy and food distractions in the search environment to find the target odor
- Search buildings or other large areas under time pressure (up to 10 minutes per search)
- Find an unknown number of hides.
- Navigate high hides
- Clear rooms that contain no odor.
While it’s most important to focus on the team’s strengths, we notice and address areas of weakness to minimize errors. We troubleshoot issues such as fringe and false alerts, to improve your precision, accuracy, and reliability, while continuing to have fun with your canine partner in skill building games. Watch BB at https://youtu.be/Pue8qOHBHOw.
MIXED LEVEL CLASSES
In our mixed level classes, we customize the training for each unique dog, using the techniques described above. We’ll split challenges into components and train them separately. We’ll proceed at a speed that works for your dog, troubleshooting any issues that occur. It should be fun at every session.
SNIFF AND GO’s
Interested in seeing how your dog would do in scent detection? Our Sniff and Go’s allow you to purchase one session, when it’s convenient for you.
- New teams will learn to search for target odor in the scent detection lab (like our Level 1 class).
- Advanced teams can test their skills, build confidence, or simply to have fun in a supportive, safe, new environment.
You can choose to do a blind search (where the handler doesn’t know the location of odor) or ask where odor is before you start searching, so you can click/mark the instant your dog is successful, then reward at source. Interior, exterior and vehicle searches may also be available depending on weather. If your dog has any problems or you’re brand new and unsure, watch other teams so you see exactly where source is located, or ask the instructor where it is so you can reward immediately. If you have trouble, we’ll help you to make it easier so you can succeed.
Check out a fun scent maze at: https://youtu.be/6cNvp6-ZM3A.
We also offer half-day seminars: introduction to bed bugs, narcotics and nosework/scent detection competition (see https://www.kayennakennels.ca/scentdetection).
PLEASE TAKE THE STUDENT SURVEY
Once you’re registered, please complete our student survey to get the most out of your experience: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8WMBQW7. It may take up to 8 minutes to complete. We’ll use your responses to customise the searches for your unique dog.
Don’t forget to follow our blog (hit the blue button at the top right of this page) to get all the latest tips, free resources and event information. We’re looking forward to some fun scent detection with you and your dog.
Dr. Carla Simon, Hunter’s Heart
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