Category Archives: Scent Work

Looking ahead at dog related goals for 2013

Now that things are slowing down (relatively) for the winter I’m taking some time to consider what I would like to work on this year. I had  look at my 2011/2012 goals and, while we worked  little bit on all of them, the only ones we achieved was fixing the back up 3 steps for rally and getting started with Nose Work. Two is better than none right?


What  have discovered is that it’s really hard to stay motivated to do something when that something has no real application in our competition lives or our daily lives. I have given up on the long stand/down – we aren’t likely to ever compete in any event that requires either exercise. Same goes for retrieving.

We are at a point in our competition/trialing/testing career that there are more things we could do than I have time or money for. Planning ahead will allow me to invest my training time and money on things that:

  • Will keep Bear fit and healthy.
  • We enjoy.
  • Will make life easier for us (by us I men me!)
  • Will help us to be successful in the competition ring.

To this end, here is a list of things I’d like to try accomplish in 2013.


  • Improve weave pole entrance at high speed.
  • Improve Bear’s ability to focus when highly aroused.

Health & Fitness

  • Improve Bear’s overall fitness and muscle tone with FitPAWS equipment, his backpack and his cart..
  • Improve Bear’s flexibility by performing daily stretches.
  • Keep up the with Bear’s daily supplements.


  • Teach Bear to identify and indicate human scent indoors.
  • Improve stamina and focus on longer tracks (<100 yards).


  • Reduce (or eliminate) barking at work.

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Filed under Agility, Goal Setting, Health & Safety, Herding, Problem Solving, Rally-O, Scent Work, Tracking, Training

2012 in Review: 12 dog related accomplishments

Now that we are officially into the year 2013, I have been thinking about what a huge adventure the year 2012 was for Bear and I. We tried some new things, we succeeded at some things, we failed at others. I smiled a lot, I laughed a lot, I cried a little. Below are some of the great adventures we had this year.

1. Bear became a senior: Bear turned 8 (ish) at the end of December so 2012 was his first year as a senior. Aside from some lymph node swelling (NOT Cancer thank god, just a viral infection, we figure) he has been happy, healthy and fit as a fiddle. That doesn’t stop me from worrying about every little thing or dishing out all the prophylactic supplements that I can.

2. We met sheep: Meeting sheep was fantastic – the fact that Bear did not kill a sheep was even more so! Bear’s Herding Instinct Test was probably one of the best ‘dog’ experiences of the year.


3. We went back to Agility: Finally, business at the daycare is steady enough and I have enough of a routine that I could make time to go back to agility. We are behind many dogs Bear’s age but we are still having a great time.

Think he's having fun? I do!
Think he’s having fun? I do!

4. We entered our first Tracking Dog test: This was not a great time in the conventional sense but I stuck my neck out there, it was a learning experience and I’ll be damned if we go back and fail (as miserably) next year. Tracking-Test_thumb.jpg

5. Bear recovered from an iliopsoas injury: Not sure what started it but we managed to recover nicely with the help of a great vet, a great canine rehab therapist and a great canine massage therapist.

6. I attended my first online training class: The challenge of teaching classes and owning a dog daycare is finding time to train and someone to train under. The online Scent Work class gave us a great opportunity to work on our own at something completely new!

7. I judged at my first out-of-town Rally Trials: I had the wonderful opportunity to judge 3 times in Regina, SK. and had the opportunity to judge some wonderful dog & Handler Teams.

8. I made the switch to Raw feeding: After much consideration and a period of feeding both raw and kibble, I made the plunge. In hindsight, it’s not as big a deal as some make it out to be and I am happy I have made the switch.

9. I retrained the A frame contact for agility: I used Sylvia Trkman’s running contact method and have been thrilled with results. Since we made the switch we have missed a total on one contact in the trial setting.

I love A-Frame photos, they always seem to highlight just how powerful a dog's hind end is.
I love A-Frame photos, they always seem to highlight just how powerful a dog’s hind end is.

10. I developed curriculum for 4 new classes at Two Brown Dogs:

  • Novice Brain Games – Foundation behaviours for any dog sport
  • Advanced Brain Games – Advanced foundation behaviours for any dog sport
  • CARO Versatility – An introduction to CARO Versatility Exercises
  • CARO Novice Working Level – An Introduction to CARO Novice (now called Rookie)  Working Level Exercises

11. Bear and I earned 8 New Titles:

12. I accumulated 37 Continuing Education Credits towards my CCPDT recertification: In a little over a year, I have actually completed the number of hours required to recertify in December 2014.  I won’t bore you with the complete listing but you can see some of the seminars I attended here.


Filed under Agility, Herding, Rally-O, Scent Work, Training, Trials and Tribulations, Triumphs and Sucess

Sniff It – Week Four

By now we have a regular Sniff It routine here – we do our homework every morning – Bear thinks this is a wonderful way to earn breakfast.

This week in our class, our first assignment was to make things more challenging happening for our dogs by adding more containers, more boxes and more containers in boxes. We are still only hiding one food filled container but the dog now has to find it! Our second assignment is to observe our dogs and see what kinds of ‘signs’ they give us when they have found the food container.

As far as the box searches go, I think things are going nicely. Bear will still occasionally pick up a container and remove it from a box but he always leaves it if it is not the correct one. As before, I remain neutral any time a container is picked up and only give him attention (and food!) when he finds the correct container.

With the container search this week, I have been waiting a little bit longer when Bear finds the right container to see what he does. He typically starts by scratching at the container with both paws and then eventually lays down. I think that having done some article indication work for tracking helped but it’s still cool to see the light bulb turn on! Now the next challenge is to get this behavior with containers hidden in boxes!

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Filed under Scent Work, Training, Videos

Sniff It – Week Three

This week our assignments involve making things more difficult for dogs and encouraging them to use their nose. We used two exercises to do this.

The first exercise involved hiding containers in boxes. One container was filled with food, the other was empty. The dog’s job is to find the food container, my job is to make him think he’s the most brilliant dog in the world.

In the beginning, Bear is rather convinced that ALL containers must be filled with food, however, he quickly learned that there were many containers but only one food find.

The second exercise involved Bear identifying one container out of three that contained food.

The container exercise seemed like more of a nose workout. I don’t know why? Maybe because the boxes trap scent better? Regardless, Bear is quickly getting the hang of things and I can’t wait for next week’s assignment.

Read about the previous week of this class here.

Read about next week of this class here.

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Filed under Scent Work, Training, Videos

Sniff It – Week Two

This week our assignment was to hide the food container out of sight and have the dog find it. Since we were at home when the assignment was given and there happens to be lots of nooks and crannies. I recorded our first session last Sunday.

We have played this game before, hiding Bear’s favorite toy but playing with food added a certain element of….excitement as you can see.

That being said, playing at home was interesting for a few reasons

  • He always checks out places he’s found the container before.
  • Sometimes he walks by the container, his nose within inches of the container, clearly looking with his eyes not his nose.
  • Other food distractions do not seem to be a big draw.

For our second session, I brought Bear to work with me. I was not sure if it would be easier because there are fewer places to hide containers or harder because there would be more competing smells. I think that the ceiling fans gave him a bit of trouble but otherwise he did equally well!


Filed under Scent Work, Training, Uncategorized, Videos

Sniff It – Week One

I have really been looking forward to our online Sniff It class with Sumac Grant-Johnston of Wag It Training in Maine, USA.

Online training is the perfect opportunity to train at home and on my own time – attending class here means I need to find a class on a night that I am not teaching and I need to have time for a 1 hour round trip drive. Between work, trials and Sean being immobilized due to ankle surgery, time is at a premium in my life and classes with Bear are low on my priority list.

Our first week’s lesson was relatively straight forward and involved teaching dogs to wait and target a cookie filled container in exchange for praise and food rewards. This  stage is relatively easy for us since we use a lot of targets in agility and rally and trick work.

As you can see from the video, Bear was rather enthusiastic and I’m going to have some fun channeling that enthusiasm into something other than container hockey!

Read about week two of this class here.

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Filed under Scent Work, Training