Friday, November 19, 2010

My Boy's Got a Sniffer!

I like that each dog has his or her own "thing" that they do well AND like doing. Sarah is a good supervisor. She doesn't let the puppy get out of line, yet she's patient enough to let him be a puppy. Bizzle is my experimental dog - any new behavior I want to try out, Bizz will pick it up in a heartbeat. She'll also let me know if my training skills need to be sharpened because if I am not clear enough or fast enough, she'll let out a "woo-woo-woooo!" in protest. But she loves learning!

As you may know, Kuna is my very first 100% clicker-trained dog. I already see the difference. He will learn new things without hesitation, he bounces back quickly and he's been socialized (the right way) heavily. I've talked about my big plans for him: he's my public dog. Sarah used to be, but she's getting old and would be happier if I just left her at home. Kuna comes with me to after-school programs, demos with me for clients and goes anywhere dogs are permitted. But I've been anxiously waiting for the moment that HE shows me who he is. Two nights ago, his talent was revealed!

We've got a dog-toy box, which Kuna loves to dig through and find the perfect toy. Because I'm a terrible housekeeper, I tossed one of Bizz's old ladybug Halloween costumes in there. He found it and was tearing through the house like he just discovered a gold mine! I wanted it back because I didn't want him ripping it. So, I offered another one of his toys for an exchange. He obliged.

As I held it in my hand, I was talking to John. I made a gesture like I tossed the costume and it made Kuna drop his other toy and start searching for the costume. He would. not. stop. He just kept sniffing the couch, smelling under the coffee table - it had to be here somewhere, I just saw her throw it!

J and I looked at each other - he's a sniffer! Now, this shouldn't be such a surprise. We're pretty sure he's got beagle in him (based on the braying he does!) and we're guessing the other breeds mixed in are houndish and terrier-like.

I wanted to test this out! So, I had Kuna sit and stay in the other room but where he could still see me. I "hid" the costume/toy in plain sight and said "Go find it!" and encouraged him to come look for it. 5 minutes of this game and I was able to hide it under a blanket, where he didn't see me put it, and he was able to find it! Everytime he found it, I gave him lots of praise and let him tug and play with it. Then, I would cue "Out" and he'd run to the mat where I had him sitting and staying just so he could "Find it" again.

I hid it once behind the curtains - he was so close to it and would not give up on that area. He was sniffing the air, turning in fast circles until his nose landed on the curtains. All of a sudden, he froze with his nose on the curtain. Then, many fast sniffs through the fabric before his nose found it's way under the curtain and he got completely silly and came out from behind the curtain with his prize!

I'm super excited to see that this is what he loves. I think dogs need jobs, but they've got to have a job that they LOVE. With Kuna being my public dog, I had to make sure I made public appearance something he's comfortable with. But I'm happy to say that Kuna has revealed to me his passion: Finding Bizz's ladybug costume!

I can't wait to see what else we can work with! Nosework, here we come!!!

1 comment:

  1. This is going to be so fun. My previous dogs were so-so sniffers. But when I adopted hound mix Shadow, I saw behaviors I had never seen before.

    In particular, if I threw a treat on the floor and it bounced or rolled around, Shadow would follow the exact path of the treat and ignore my foot pointing out its final landing spot. I'd never seen a dog do that before. And it was fascinating.