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Training Scent Discrimination

June 21st, 2005, 12:36 AM
Does anybody know how to teach a dog "scent discrimination"??

Right now, Dodger only uses his nose to hunt and sniff out treats (and sometimes the cat!). He will find and follow my trail when I hide on him in the woods and he has always been able to discriminate a fresh scent from a old scent.

Anyway, I know that he can use his nose for his own agenda but how do I teach him to choose an object that I have "scented with my own scent"?

Would this get Dodger in a one-scent-track-mind-mode?; I mean would he only ever be able to pick out my scent? I read a story once about how a lady lost her dog and her friend's Search and Rescue dog couldn't help because he had only ever been trained to follow a human scent. Is it possible to train a dog to follow different scents (ie: human, animal, object, or something useful like a "mold detector" - I saw it on TV!) or can you only ever choose one?

Dodger is a scenthound (Foxhound) and is pretty good at what he does naturally (ie: HUNT) but how to I train him to use his nose for me (my agenda!)!? Dodger and I might try competitive obedience so scent discrimination is a requirement (if we get far enough!)!

Thanks! :D

BTW - Could this be considered a trick?!? :p I need a new trick for our obedience class and I am running out of time!! :eek:

June 21st, 2005, 12:42 AM
Also, I have only ever used the words find it, take it and bring (for a retrieval instead of seek or fetch). If I have him in a stay I'll say GO take it; or GO find it - would I need to use a different word when training him to bring me ONLY a/the scented object?
Thanks again!

Daisy's Owner
June 21st, 2005, 05:43 AM
Lissa, if you don't get any answers this morning, I will talk to my trainer this afternoon. He teaches search and rescue. I only know a little bit about it. They don't use scent per se. They search for things that don't belong.

I was also watching Top Dogs last night and it was about K9 competition. Somthing that was said, I thought was very interesting. You know that strong smell of grass after it has been mowed. That is what a dog smells when someone has trampled through a field. They are able to follow something based on the displacement of the grass.

June 21st, 2005, 08:42 AM
I saw Dr. Coren do this on Good Dog! once. Let me see if I remember it all.

He took the dog to a big open field. He'd take a treat, show it to the dog and then shuffle along the ground about 2 or 3 metres, put the treat down, then turn and walk back on the same trail as he walked forward on. Then he'd have the dog on a long leash or rope and he'd say "seek". The dog would then go to the treat and when he did, Dr. Coren would praise him for finding it. At first it's more or less the dog SEEING where the treat is, but the distances get longer as you get better at it. Soon, you can replace treats with objects of yours, then get your friends to do the same with some of their own objects.

I might have missed a few steps, but I'm sure those are the basics. ;)

June 21st, 2005, 08:49 AM

these are links about scent and how to get your dog to start playing scent games with you. you can also do a search online for "tracking".

lemme know if the links are helpful!!! :)

June 21st, 2005, 08:50 AM
Oh, I remembered something else. He'd have the dog keep his nose to the ground when following the trail. He'd walk along the trail with the dog, while point to the trail - the dog would keep his nose down where Dr. Coren's finger was. This is so the dog would know he was following a certain smell to get to the treat.

June 21st, 2005, 11:07 AM
Thank-you all for your replies. The links were helpful and I will continue getting Dodger to use his nose to find hidden treats. He is at the point now where he can find a treats hidden on chairs, tables (not just on the gorund) and inside a plastic container (I make him sit-stay in the kitchen while I hide the treats in the family room). He cheats sometimes by listening to the creaks in the floor and using his eyes to locate where I've hidden the treat - but if that fails he turns on the sniffer!

Would I go through the same process when teaching him to find an object I have scented?

One of the links said to teach the dog to "Sniff/smell" so I think I will work on that with Dodger - he doesn't know how to sniff at a treat without taking it to eat!!! :)


Daisy's Owner - if you don't mind asking your trainer about scent discrimination, I would really appreciate it! I'll try asking mine as well but they don't offer any classes about tracking so I think their knowledge is limited.

June 21st, 2005, 12:45 PM
Would I go through the same process when teaching him to find an object I have scented?
Lissa, you could always use an object and go through the same process with Dodger and see if he catches on. If you use a word like "find" when you make him find the treats, then use the same word with the object. If he doesn't understand at first, you could take the object and rub treat-smell on it.

August 25th, 2005, 10:25 AM - they are located in the area of Canotek in Ottawa. They offer scent training courses and obedience classes among other things..

I was just refered to it this morning.