Dog Training World Forums Specialized Dog Training Specific Odor Detection Changing a sniffer dog’s alert! Part 1 Reply To: Changing a sniffer dog’s alert! Part 1

  • Dustin

    February 12, 2021 at 12:09 am

    Day 3.  As we entered the training room to begin the evening Senna walked to the cinder block I had prepared, sniffed deeply and sat down.  We were off to a good start, he offered up the behavior I wanted without any prompting but we didn’t count it as a rep for the same reason.  We started out with the same drill from last night and Senna nailed the sit alert 9 out of 10 times, reverting to passive stare on the 8th try.  On the 11th attempt he walked up to the cinder block and sat without ever smelling to make sure the odor was present.  At that point I knew this drill had run its course and he was ready for another step. (Exhibit 4- Video of 7th rep.

    If Senna were a greener dog I would slowly odd more blocks and distractions odors but because he has run the block drill hundreds of times I was confident he could handle that as the next step.  Each block has two holes and I was using 9 blocks so I had 18 possible holes to work with.  I used one scent can of target odor, 1 scent can of treats, 1 scent can of clove spice, 1 scent can of thyme spice, 2 empty scent cans, 4 of the holes were filled with nitrile gloves that I have worn previously.  8 holes were empty.  Senna failed to sit alert on the first two attempts, defaulting to the passive stare.  He got it right on the 3rd attempt but once again just froze on the 4th.  Attempts 5,6,7 were all successful sits.  On the 8th attempt Senna passed over the hole that contained clove and started to sit but searched a couple more holes before going back to the clove and doing a passive stare alert.  The clove is a very strong odor compared to the target odor we were using today and I believe Senna just took a chance on alerting there because he was starting to get mentally fatigued and knew “something” different and strong was in that hole. His lack of confidence was evident in his body language. We documented it as a false alert and moved on to the 9th attempt where Senna located the target odor, sat half way down and moved back into a standing passive stare alert. The 10th attempt was a perfect sit alert but I could tell he was tired mentally.  Normally Senna is good to run the block drill at least 20 times in a session but I think because he is still learning and defining the parameters of this new alert behavior its more taxing on him cognitively.  I ended the session so we could have some fun with obedience but left the room set up and brought him back about 15 minutes later for one last rep hoping I could get it recorded.  Exhibit 5-

    Some keen eared listeners may notice that at the same time I changed his alert I also changed his search cue from “C4” to “seek” because it sounds a little more professional in case that ever were to become an issue.  The two words are close enough I thought Senna would be able to generalize and that has been the case.  Seek is just C4 with the second syllable dropped and a hard consonant end so he picked it up quickly.