Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sarah: Indoor Airscenting Fun

Playing with Pip this AM up in one of the guest rooms, I put the anise-scented cotton ball against the corner of a closed door. Returning to my eager teammate, I told her to "Find!"  Zipping in, she went first to the location of her last find. Nothing. Then she went to the location of the find before that. Nothing. Then, having used all her memory had to suggest, I heard her turn her nose on. She started snuffling her typical pattern, circle out a bit from one "last seen location" and then the other. Checking a few spots out as she went back and forth, one to the other.

When this came up dry, she worked the perimeter going right past the cotton ball several times. I realized then that the scent was probably being pulled under the door into the other area, much like water might seep from one room, under a door, to another. And, with the scent being pulled away, it was largely "invisible" in the room we were in.

After about five minutes, Pip returned to me, sat and stared. I did not move, I did not make eye contact. Usually she breaks off in a few seconds and gets back to work, this time she did not.

We're new to this particular scenting game and my job is to protect her desire to try above all things. So, still without making eye contact, I took a few steps into the center of the room and told her enthusiastically to "Find!" From there she spun and went directly to the cotton ball. Click/toss a major treat.

Did I somehow orient her to the find? Not that I am aware of but much of the most interesting stuff in scent work handling happens well outside our conscious awareness. I'll certainly watch for it in the future.

Ms. Pip is picking up this game quickly, stay tuned for more reports on this fun canine activity.

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