Week 5 - Complex searches.
This week Iona and I will show you some different ways to make your searches more difficult. If you practice scent work, than most of these strategies will be familiar to you. If your dog is performing beginner searches with enthusiasm then it is time to up the challenge. It is important to match the search to your dog’s abilities. In general, if it takes your dog longer than 1 min, then it is a bit too hard. At this point, I will either take them out of the search area and reset the object, or I will quickly move the location while they are not looking. NEVER help the dog by pointing or giving away the location of the hide.
It is always nice to go back through all your foundations at the start of your practice session: Hold, pick up, retrieve, and easy search before increasing the difficulty.
Then you can start to increase the difficulty of the searches . In the first search, I set a threshold hide near the startline, in the second search, I place an elevated hide. Obviously, place your elevated hides so that your dog can grab them and bring them to you once they find them. I like to leave a bit of the object hanging over the edge for Iona with this type of hide.
Also make sure to set some corner hides. These can be easy like the first hide in the video, or more difficult like the second hide.
You can also set some fun puzzles for your dog. I like a dog that is searching to be pushy and stretch to get to source and grab the object. If your dog knows where the object is, but doesn’t want to get all the way to it you can encourage them (it is ok because they already found the hide). If they still wont get it, then just grab it and throw it for a retrieve, when they bring it back give them a treat.
Here is a really hard puzzle that I set for Iona. See how she was able to find the object with her nose, but needed to leave the scent cone to solve the puzzle? This is very important skill for scent work dogs.
Play around with your hiding spots. Wedge the object in an area so your dog really has to work to get it out. As long as your dog is searching enthusiastically, keep pushing the boundaries, but make sure that you do not place the object in an inaccessible location. They should always be able to grab it with their mouth.