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Scent hounds and focusing

May 8th, 2006, 08:41 PM
Cider is about 20 months old right now. And prior to now walking on a loose leash was an imposible dream. She's maturing, and in the past few weeks we can now walk on a flat collar with some problems, but it's never so tight that she's pulling my arm out of the socket. (we are working on it, but it is getting somewhere)

She knows the command look to look at my face, but on a walk the scent hound takes over and her nose is glued to the ground almost non stop. If we stop because she is pulling she'll walk in closer to me, and eventually look at my face, and we continue.. and she gets it. When she wants to go she sits and immediately looks at me.. but overall doesn't care.. when sitting she can watch the world, and that is good enough apparently. High pitched happy voice occasionally get her attention, but not long enough or often enough, after a block treats won't do it, or praise, or a toy to stop and have a play session with.. She sort of is watching my legs I guess ecause some of the time she knows where to go when we've turned.. other times hits the end of the leash and looks back..

We've tried changing directions when she pulls.. she doesn't care she's back at the ground.. If I walk backwards she is confused and watches me some, but I'm not sure what to do with that.

We are in agility class.. and she listens super well in a classroom setting, or at home when it's training time. But at home when you'd like her to listen she turns you off.. She was the star of agility until tonight. Now I almost don't want to go back..
She knows the commands really well.. but we moved to training outside tonight.. so she was either wanting to play with other dogs.. or pulling and backtalking while trying to sniff as much ground as possible.. On a super short leash had her face so buried in the grass that an airhorn may not have gotten her attention.
To my dismay they let her off leash so she zoomed for 5 minutes and we continued but her focus didn't get better.

So what do you do to get a scent hound to pay attention to something other than scenting... I was hoping to maybe be able to try and compete in later future in agility or flyball.. but I'm not sure I can make this better and it's upsetting me. Heck you let her into the backyard that she's sniffed for a year and she's buried so deep in it that she won't listen.. Yet we were able to do a few pieces of agility equipment there earlier this week without much trouble..

We even excercised prior to class tonight to see if it might help her be a little bit tired and pay attention but no.. I have worked so hard with her, and still feel like a horrible mom.
Help... :evil:

May 9th, 2006, 09:05 AM
wow, sounds like you wrote that about my own dog. I'm in the same boat. Tucker has taken OB 1,2,3 & pre-agility, done great, yet just wants to sniff the world and not pay attention.

My trainer actually suggested Vicks on the nose during class, to prevent the dog from scenting. He said it's an old "ring" trick... I have NOT tried this yet though.

He also suggested I teach a "NO SNIFF" command. It takes time, but I keep trying this route - and sometimes it works, sometimes not. Basically like a LEAVE IT, but for when the dog is scenting.

May 9th, 2006, 01:03 PM
Jump off of the 'horrible mom' soap box right now!
Look at all of the things you just described that you have taught her and that you do with her. AWESOME!
You have a challenging breed - its what you signed up for.
She is still young and in her most challenging time. The walks you describe are a higher level of training for her - what we call college. Do not go for a walk yet - do drills for 10-15 minutes and get her focused on you. With each step of good behavior she earns more of a walk, but don't plan on going from point A to point B right off. You might have to go from A to Z in a 20 foot radius before she gets her act together.
Remember too, that as long as she is infront of your toe line at all - she is leading the way. I don't care if its on a loose leash she is still walking you. How much of what she does is her controling you? When she sits beside you because she knows that it will make you walk forward is she telling you what to do? It is a super fine line there. Yes, it is good behavior, but it can also be manipulative. Sounds like she could use some patience. Make her wait until you are ready - don't just start walking the second she sits and looks at you. It is the next level of training. When she was younger we rewarded the look, now we reward the patience.

May 9th, 2006, 09:17 PM
Thank you Jessi, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

It's actually not what I signed up for.. My roomate bought Cider at a petshop.. And only after she got her, did I go and become informed on all things dog, she never bothered.. AKA how we started feeding iams.. she said it was good food..
After university was over, Cider was a burden and she was going to take her to the pound. After her living in the same house as me for 4 months, I was attatched, and couldn't let her be possibly pts. So she's a rescue of sorts.. but when she was bought I knew nothing about what makes breeds different.

But, she's now mine, I love her, and I'm really trying. I was just so upset last night.. I guess I'm not a bad Mom, but we've been having off days.. Thank you Tenderfoot.

I was discussing last night with someone the fact that while it's a loose leash, that she is way out in front, and to a point I'm walking to her pace.. I've tried slowing down on walks so she has to pay some attention, but it's not the same. I was afraid that a loose leash walk in the heel position was, well not fun..

But we'll try OB excercises in more places, like the front yard, park across the street. I'm not sure we will get far. But we can start there. I know she's young, and only now realize I expect a lot out of her.. but we will work on it this week.

Than you Tenderfoot.

May 10th, 2006, 09:46 AM
Aww.that is fantastic work you have done with a hound, especially when you had no prior experience!

My pooches are huge sniffers and I know its tough to get their attention. Just be happy you don't have a beagle like mine that "hunts" on our walks for rabbits, gets a sniff and howls so loud it must wake up the whole neighbourhood! It's comical to watch (I think in his former home he was a hunting dog) but man the neighbours probably don't appreciate it a 6am in the morning!:)

May 10th, 2006, 10:17 AM
Dale is a scent hound too and he truly lives up to the breed. There is no way I could ever let him off his leash outside cause he would floow that nose and take off. In our home he is wonderful and he listens to everything I say, outside it is a completely different story. I practically have to jump around whistleing while I stomp my feet and wave my arms for him to even look at me while we are on a walk. We are in obedience classes now and he does well with everything except the focus training. No matter what though he is a wonderful pup and we are so blessed to have him. Unfortunately I dont have any advice but just wanted to let you know you are not alone:)
Dale's Mom

May 11th, 2006, 04:51 PM
It's awesome to know it isn't just me.. I had looked online about focusing and scent hounds and didn't find too much.. I was feeling like a freak.

I've been given advice by a few people. Now I just need to implement it and see what will work in time. :)

May 11th, 2006, 04:59 PM
why not use the sniff as a reward? Get a few steps of attentive, loose lead walking, then 'go sniff!" and she gets a few minutes of freedom to bury her nose and be a hound. Same for agility - do two obstacles, then 'go sniff'...

May 11th, 2006, 10:36 PM
We had the most awesome breakthrough and I haven't really 'done' anything to make it possible WHOOOOOOOO

So I hadn't walked Cider in 3 days. I've been working (today too in the pouring rain outside..) And was getting home so so late it wasn't happening.. So she's been schizo squirrel hyper..
Tonight when the rain tapered off, I decided we'd walk.. but go back to the 4ft leash.

First block I made her be at my side, and the leash was tight. Second block I put her on the 'wrong side' since OB has always put her t my left.. and we started to walk. She stayed at my side even when I gave her a little more freedom, and moved us closer to the grass.. her head went to sniff some, but she stayed focused.. Rained harder, but we kept going. By the end of th walk she had 4 ft of leash, and was staying pretty well at my side, or half a step behind..

I almost cried it was so awesome. It's not perfect, but it took the most minor gentle corrections of pulling her slightly back with the leash if she started to forge ahead, and sh'd go back to my side.. And the best part, she watched me as we walked.. for once I didn't step on her as she vered and tried to cross my path, nothing. She was at least watching my body a lot and looked at me a good deal too.

I don't know if it's the fact that I don't think we've ever walked in rain.. she goes out back to potty in it though.. Or if we've had the major major breakthrough.. because I've never really tried to train this. She just did it..

And when we got home, she ran towards the stairs, I told her to wait and she skidded to a stop and waited.. It's like her ears turned on tonight... WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The wait was so good we had to go back to the kitchen for a cookie.....

May 12th, 2006, 07:35 AM
Great news!:thumbs up . I find walking my pooches later at night when I have been home for a couple hours and everyone is settled is much better for keeping their attention on walks. I used to come home from work and take them out right away but it was like walking two sled dogs, they were so hyper and non-attentive and pulling all over the place. So I changed our routine and did indoor training and then supper, then a walk later on. helped me tons!