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Scent Work Update

Based on input from our trainer (Gigi) and our behaviorist (Jennie), we’re revamping our scent training work. Here’s how:

1. Retrain a specific scent alert behavior (laying down) so that we can try to avoid Lilly playing with the items instead of working.

2. Work just a bit more on choosing the scented item (using various scents) from the unscented ones.

3. Use napkins/paper towels, which are much less fun to play with (we hope).

4. Quickly move from find the scented item to matching scent I choose and alert to the right one from a few variously scented items.

Our goal is to get Lilly really thinking about the smells and figuring out the matching part.

She picked up on the sniff + down pretty quickly on Sunday. She did pretty well picking the scented item from a selection of 2-3. When she was wrong, I turn my back for about 20 seconds. After a few of those, she got frustrated and gave up, so clearly I need to keep the sessions shorter before that happens.

When we tried later in the week, she did well again — offering the DOWN, picking the right one, except when I turned my back to mark an incorrect choice, I could hear her shredding the napkin behind me. It was hard not to laugh.

I find that once she makes a wrong choice and has slobbered on the item that it’s harder to get her back on track. Typically, I make the next try easier, then quit before everything goes to pot.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.