For those folks that have a dog that likes to dig, scratch, bite, flip open and/or knock over the food bowls or the white ORT boxes, I suggest making a set of Wooden Boxes. As Bob Bailey often famously said, “To avoid an animal developing unwanted behaviors, manipulate the environment so that the unwanted behaviors are less likely to happen.” I have found that one can “successfully manipulate” your dog’s search environment such that digging, scratching, biting, flipping and/or knocking over the food bowls or the white ORT boxes is “less likely to happen” by using these Wooden Boxes because the Wooden Boxes are not as easy to tip over and knock around and therefore those behaviors are not as self-reinforcing for the dog. What does start to happen because of a 3” diameter hole that you will cut in the lid of each Wooden Box is that your dog starts to “wait” for you to open the lid so that the dog can self-reward on the reward food placed in the Wooden Box that you use as your “hot-Box.” And, as a result of your dog “waiting” for you to open the lid, you get the start of a Focused Nose Lock as a Demand to be Paid naturally, without any cuing or prompting by you.
The following are several photographs of the Wooden Boxes that I had made a several years back. Each Wooden Box is made out of pine boards. The dimensions of my Wooden Boxes are: 10” wide x 9 ¼ “ length x 5 ½ “ high, including the lid and base made out of the same ¾” pine planks. But, please make your Wooden Boxes in a size that will allow the “Nested Bowls” you use for your reward food to fit within the Wooden Box and also large enough to use with your “Bowl Sandwich” later on in training. [Please see another article on this website for information about my “Bowl Sandwiches:” http://www.scentinelnosework.com/wooden-boxes/ ]. I did not account for the larger size of the “Bowl Sandwich” when I made my first set of boxes and so I had to make another set of Wooden Boxes for when I transitioned my dog onto odor. So, make your boxes big enough for both types of bowls used in training.
I permanently secure a base to the bottom of each Wooden Box but I hinge the lid to the top of each Wooden Box so that I can easily open up the lid so the dog can self-reward on the reward food inside the Wooden Box that I use as the “Hot-Box.” I then attach Brass Hook Catches to the front of each lid to keep the lid shut. I cut a circle in the center of each lid to make a 3” hole in the lid. I then lightly bolt an electrical junction box cover to disguise the hole later on in the dog’s training. Once the box is built, I then put three coats of an outdoor marine varnish to protect the Wooden Boxes from food droppings and saliva smears that occur during training. [Please note that the Wooden Box used in these photographs also have holes drilled in the sides. This was an earlier version of my Wooden Boxes and I found that these holes were not necessary given the 3” diameter hole cut in the lid of each Wooden Box].
You should make at least 4 Wooden Boxes. One of these Wooden Boxes will be used as your “Hot-box” during training. The remaining 3 Wooden Boxes can be left empty or distractions placed in them.
Have fun with the Wooden Boxes!