Weekly Training Update (April 17)

I’m swamped with work, so I didn’t get to do much scent work this week. I tried capturing some of our struggles on video, but it’s really hard to train and deal with the camera at the same time, so instead … you’ll find another trick video below. (Are you sick of me and the new camera yet?) BUT, you’ll also find a written recap of our scent work so far and photos of Katie’s latest visit for a play date

Scent Work Continued
As I mentioned earlier, we started with beer on a cotton ball inside one container, and all Lilly wanted to do was pick up or otherwise mess with the container. I was NOT convinced she was using her nose. So, I went to scent inside one container with one decoy, then two, then three.

I clicked and treated her any time she picked the right one (even if she knocked over all of them before getting it right). I thought about only rewarding right-on-the-first-try responses, but she got very frustrated and discouraged.

I found that sitting on the floor with her and having her in a DOWN across from me worked best. I could play the “shell game” and slide the various yogurt cups with lids around. She honestly seemed to be sniffing the more we played at the game. I could even hear her sniffing.

Full-disclosure — I went to WHISKEY because getting a little out of the bottle makes more sense than messing up a beer (or gasp, having to drink one) to get a little for training. The whiskey smell is much stronger, obviously.

(Yes, there’s a bottle of Maker’s Mark in my cabinet. Don’t be shocked. It’s been there for going on 8 years. I mostly use it to marinate steaks.)

Even with three decoys and the one scented cup, Lilly got really good at picking the right one.

In an attempt to make it easier and potentially easier to film, I put velcro on the cups and attached them to a piece of cardboard. Genius, I told myself. Just brilliant.

Guess what happened?

Lilly thought ripping the cups off the cardboard and getting to hear the velcro
tearing sound was a HOOT. She completely stopped trying to smell anything. It
like a ghetto version of a Hide-a-Squirrel or something. She had FAR too much
fun ripping the set-up apart.

First, I was frustrated. Then, I couldn’t stop laughing.

So, we haven’t revisited the smell game since. I promise we’ll try again soon,
when I have a spare second not soaked with deadline worry.

Katie’s Visit After a Month-Long Break

Katie is now clear to play again, after a month to rest an injured wrist, so
one day this week when a scheduled interview evaporated on a warmish afternoon,
I ran up to get her for a visit. I let Lilly and Ginko out onto our property so
that they could see me bring her back. I hoped this would prevent any surprise

When I got to the gate, I threw a handful of food to distract Ginko. Lilly and
Katie tore off racing around, while he snacked. When he decided to join the
game, he went barreling toward the girls and made Katie scream. Poor sweetie.
He can be a bit much.

Since it had been a while since the threesome had played, I stayed outside with
them for most of the playdate so that I could monitor them. I tried to get some
good action shots of the racing and playing, but I’m not nearly as good as Dog-Geek at capturing
the fun.

Honestly, though, they didn’t really play that much. All three kind of poked
around and did their own thing. Ginko had the ball. The girls sniffed around,
splashed in the pond and such. I guess I should have brought out more toys.

I did a bunch of treat feeding for all three to make sure everyone felt the love and got rewarded.

katie and pups

Katie’s ultimate fate is still undecided, but it’s looking less and less like she’ll get a dog friend at home.

Another Trick Video
I can’t help myself. Another video of Lilly showing off. It’s under 1 minute.



P.S. My blog software does not seem to like when I post photos AND video in the same entry. Often I get things just right and save it, only to find most of what I wrote and inserted gone the next time I get into the file. So, I pasted everything into a Word file just in case. When I pasted it back in, however, I couldn’t fix the font to match. It’s very aggravating. So … if there is ever a post that seems all out of whack, that’s why. I’m hoping this redone version works.


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.

Betty - April 18, 2009

The pictures and video are just too cute! I often have ‘issues’ when I post videos…my comment section disappears and reappears…weird…not sure what’s up with that!

Thanks for sharing the video…I’m no trainer of pets…not sure just what it is I’m not doing correctly, other than it IS a bit difficult with four little ones running around..haha.

Rox - April 18, 2009

I think so too. He is a lab-greyhound mix.

Samantha - April 18, 2009

What type of dog is Ginko? Reminds me of Marge in some ways.

I just love doggie playdates… or sniff-date, in this case. Hope all of you guys are having the same nice weather that we are here in NYC.

Rox - April 17, 2009

Thanks. Lilly loves tricks. I think she thinks they are funny, but more than likely it’s because I laugh so much when she does them.

Susan McCullough - April 17, 2009

Love the music — and how Lily’s wagging her tail throughout the whole exercise.

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