Monday, February 2, 2009

Anti-crittering work and improvement

To follow up on the learning of yesterday, I went out to Academy and bought some bottled scent from the hunting section (yay for a gift card lol). I ended up with the following: raccoon urine, fox cover scent, and buck urine. Yummy. :P They will be living in the garage because OMG do they stink (even to my wimpy human nose)!

Since I was off today, I decided to do a little pre-training before using the scents as distractions in the field. The raccoon urine was first - I sprayed about 4 or 5 sprays of the urine onto a post in the corner of our backyard. I got Z all dressed and leashed and took her out in the light drizzle to work on Zen. Z wasn't immediately drawn to the scent, but once she hit it she was quite interested. I kept tension on the lead but did not correct or cue. As soon as her head came away from the post I clicked and rewarded with cat food. I walked her by the scent again and it took only a few seconds for her to turn away. By the 3rd walk by she was completely ignoring the raccoon urine, so back in the house she went and out came the deer and fox scents.

I sprayed the deer urine on grass about 20 ft from the raccoon post - 4 sprays - and squirted the fox scent onto a kleenex on the ground 30 ft from the deer scent. Of the three I have to say deer is the stinkiest!

I brought Z out again and walked her by all three scents. She ignored the raccoon still (C/T), missed the deer (still C/T), and was intrigued by the fox. Again I held tension on the lead and waited for her to turn away to C/T. Walked her by it several times, C/Ting for turn aways. After about 4 reps she was ignoring it as well.

On the second pass by the deer scent she caught it and BOY was she sniffing. To avoid creating an unwanted "find the animal scent" behavior, I actually told her to "Leave It" on this scent since she was so entranced. That worked quickly (yay!), so I started her back near the fox scent for a walk by. This time she still ignored the fox, but beelined to the deer. I waited and the head came up after about 5 seconds, so C/T and walk by. Rinse and repeat. it took about 6 reps to get her "over" the deer scent, but still not shabby at all.

By the end of our 5 or 10 minute training session, Z was *walking over* all three scents for the most part and when she did sniff it was only for a split second before turning away. Great progress, but will it transfer to our SAR work??

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