Aging Hides/Intensities

In my classes, I routinely change out the Q-tips in my tins so that the dogs that work with me are constantly being exposed to different intensities of scent.  We also have training drills where I set up problems with decreasing amounts of odor (at least I think it is decreasing but only the dog knows for sure… 🙂 ) to see how the dogs work the different amounts of odor.  Everyone should do this outside of class as well of course as we never know how much scent is going to be available to our dogs at trial.  The concept of “going to source” regardless of the scent threshold available to the dog must be really locked in.  Aging the different hides is also very important.  I had one student that was an ace in class, nailed every problem beautifully in class as well as in my off-site classes but then would false alert when competing.  I initially thought that the false alerting was caused by the handler’s nerves, but that really wasn’t an issue.  I then began to think that the lack of MY odor on the source was the problem for this dog until I said in passing to the handler, “You do age your hides, right?”  It turns out that every problem that they worked had not been aged more than ten minutes.  She set the hides out and then immediately worked them.  And so, of course, the dog got conditioned to indicating on a scent plume that was only “ten minutes in intensity” (my phrasing and not that of the dog 🙂 ) and, when the dog encountered scent at that “ten minute intensity,” the dog told the owner that he had found, even though the dog had encountered that “scent-intensity” about four feet from source on a hide that had been aged over seven hours!  Fringing!!!  Arghh!!  As soon as I identified the problem, the handler started to age her hides and this particular dog when on to title at NW1 at the next trial.  And then, a few months later, this dog titled at NW2 and the dog went on, just a few months later, to title at NW3!!  Whew!!!  Moral is:  Vary the intensity of your hides AND age them!!! 🙂

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