Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Nose Knows

Took Keeper to her first Introduction to Nose Work class last night.  We left the house a bit late, and took the wrong road in.  Darn it!  I didn't want to be late, but it was all so new I was sure our instructor would be forgiving.   I tried to just sit back, drive slowly, and enjoy the scenery.  And not chew my nails.     
The Keeps was very quiet as we drove, and drove, and drove, winding our way through foreign country roads, somewhere between Sebastopol and Cotati.  She was quiet as a church mouse....until we were about 1/4 mile from our destination.  Suddenly she perked up.  She started whining her "Oh, boy!  We're almost there!" whine, which surprised the heck out of me.  Why would she whine so excitedly, for a place she'd never seen before, in an area she's never been in before, and didn't know anything about....?
Dogs are amazing.

The Grange is a pretty little building, nestled in the country.  It reminded me of watching my parents square-dance, back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. 

The National Association of Canine Scent Work trains dogs to sniff for "stuff" in four elements - containers, interiors, exteriors and vehicles.  

Everybody starts with boxes, and treats or toys.  Our homework is to acquire at least 8 boxes of this type, and continue to work the exercise we learned.

Boxes, boxes, boxes

Caleb, a classmate
I decided to train Keeper using her toy, instead of treats.  She was very excited to find her toy in the toy box, amongst all the other boxes (and good at it), but not too thrilled with her inability to RUN on the slippery linoleum floor.  Legs akimbo!  Poor sweet Keep.  Caleb's mom suggested that I trim the extra fur off her feet.  I've never trimmed a dog's paw fur before.  I've always been of the mind that dogs grow fur there for a I'll have to mull this one over.

We'll be working our way from using a toy (or dog treats) to using the scents recommended by the NACSW...birch, anise and clove.  And of course the hiding places will get much more difficult. 


Anonymous said...

I trim paw fur, especially on old dogs. They seem to appreciate it.

Celeste said...

Anon - Your comment made me think about how some older people grow extra nosehair, or hair in their ears. ;-) A little trim wouldn't hurt...

Elf said...

@Celeste--Old-dog foot hair, that's what I always accused Jake of having after he got to be maybe 10 or 11. Looked really stupid. Trimmed that back a lot. Also, am always trying to get mud, grass, etc out of my dogs' toes and having too much fur there makes it very challenging; I don't dig in really far to trim it, but I will trim it back to their pads anyway if it's sticking out further. Maybe if they were snow dogs and in the snow all the time, I might think about how much I'd want to trim. But mostly it's a nuisance--collects burrs and things, too, if it's not trimmed back.

Anonymous said...

I keep the hair on the bottom of all my dogs' feet trimmed short so they can use the traction of their pads, just like I keep their nails trimmed (but not too short). Being a smoothie, Merc's foot hair doesn't get as long as the others. I think the hair does serve a purpose to protect the skin between their pads but as usual, domestication and selecting for different coat lengths probably has made the foot hair growth go a bit hay wire. ;-) I think trimmed feet are much safer for agility (on contacts) and we have mostly wood floors in our house. Plus in our wet climate, less hair for mud to stick to...

The nose work sounds like it will be fun to do with Keeper!

Jo, Kirby, Slider, Steam and Merc

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