Harv does scent work

Ok. @UncleBob and Harvey started their scent training proper this morning. After the first go, which was a bit "woohoo I'm in a field" Harv settled down and was excellent. His handler needs some work though! 😉 I'm sure @UncleBob will post some more details later, but thought I'd post some pictures to be going on with. View attachment 8886 View attachment 8892 View attachment 8893 View attachment 8894 View attachment 8895

Looks wonderful, Harvey seems to be a natural.
The form, as we discovered today, is to record each scent find that Harv does - type of scent, weather conditions, results and any comments. That way we can track his progress, see if he’s better when it’s wet or dry, hot or cold etc etc. Not too much equipment really. Harness and a longline, truffle oil (this is the scent we’re starting with) cotton buds (to put the scent on) and some sort of container (to put the buds in and hide), hence the little sieves. 😊 I think they’re really for making tea!
OK, a brief summary of our scent class today:

* I got us off to a poor start by forgetting that I had de-cluttered the car prior to going on holiday. This meant - no long-line, no tennis balls (Harv's reward for success), no clicker. Stupid UncleBob! :facepalm:

* We began by having a quick briefing about how we were going to move forward (notwithstanding my attempts at sabotage!). A key part, as my better half has already mentioned, is keeping detailed records of each session. This will enable us to draw conclusions about which areas are going well and which require more work (either from Harv or, more likely, me). We were also introduced to some new scent containers - the tea leaf strainers on a key ring in the first photo!

* On our first go Harv was way too excited (note the tight lead and my impression of a one-man tug-o-war team in the second photo after he received his tennis ball reward - kindly provided by the trainer). However, despite poor handling by me, he did successfully find the scent pot and indicate to me where it was. My numerous errors on this run included:
1. Not spotting the change in body language when Harv scented the target. (Having watched a video playback it was so obvious - primarily with his tail-wagging shifting into overdrive!)
2. Not spotting the one-sided nature of the sweeping action Harv was doing while 'working the grid'. He has a distinct preference for sniffing on the right-hand side rather than the left. Not sure why this is, but I should have been alert to it to encourage him to give equal attention to either side.
3. Giving too much guidance. Harv has a habit of regularly 'checking in' with me. Normally this is a good thing, especially if he sees another dog when we are walking. But in the scent work scenario it is slowing his progress - he should just get on with it without seeking constant feedback from me.
4. Rewarding Harv too quickly when he found the scent pot - I should be encouraging a longer, more deliberate indication that Harv has found the target.

* We formed up for a discussion of the first run. This involved hearing how Harv did quite well, but me ... not so much :) We resolved that I would do better on the next run ...

* And I did! To be fair, Harv had calmed down a bit too so that helped, and I now had a better idea of what I was looking for.

* Then we moved on to having two scent pots to find on one search. Many dogs find it hard to move on to the second target after finding the first - the residual smell being quite distracting. However, Harv was in the groove now and doing his level best to make up for the shortcomings of his team-mate. Both targets were found and clearly indicated by The Hurricane. (I should point out at this stage that the chain on the funny tea leaf containers means that they can be hung on things in addition to just being placed on the ground - so sneaky people sought to add to the challenge by utilising this 'feature'!)

* To finish off we did another 'two scent pot' run, with Harv again being near perfect.

* Future sessions will apparently involve the use of far greater search areas and necessitate the use of GPS devices to mark the location of the pots so that we don't lose them! We will also move on to locating more than one scent (we are still on truffle oil for everything at the moment).

So, recorded details for today's session feature 100% success for Harv and the trainer was also very pleased with him (apparently he is the best scent dog that she works with - she may, of course, say that to all of the owners! ;) ). For me, it's a case of 'must try harder' - it's like being back at school again! :rofl:


Queen of Turnips
Devon, UK
Isn’t that fascinating @UncleBob ?! I love watching video of scent and search work more than anything as you pick up so many more subtleties being able to watch it back and rewind. Harv is such a good boy and is clearly enjoying it. Did he find the item just before the end of the video? I wondered if he was actually heading that way at around 0.16 in the video, then you do an arm movement and he follows the direction you indicated further into the field.
Isn’t that fascinating @UncleBob ?! I love watching video of scent and search work more than anything as you pick up so many more subtleties being able to watch it back and rewind. Harv is such a good boy and is clearly enjoying it. Did he find the item just before the end of the video? I wondered if he was actually heading that way at around 0.16 in the video, then you do an arm movement and he follows the direction you indicated further into the field.
Yes, he quite often picks up the scent 'early' - we are trying to get him used to searching in a grid pattern rather than a random 'race around like a lunatic until you stumble upon it' approach, which is Harv's preferred method ;-)
Apologies. I’ve been somewhat remiss in my posting duties recently.

We had another scent training class with Harv. This time we had two objectives; placing the scent targets off the ground sometimes and also working around buildings (which changes things for scent detection dogs as solid structures can ‘bounce’ the scent signals). The trainer suggested that we meet at a local farm where she has an arrangement with the farmer.

We had a pre-training chat and the trainer explained that she had brought along one of her dogs, William the young black Labrador, to alternate with Harv. This allowed Harv some recovery time but also allowed me to take note of what the trainer was doing, and what I should be doing (that was the theory anyway!).

We started with 4 scent containers placed along the outside wall of some outbuildings, two at ground level and two at around waist level (mine, not Harv’s). It was interesting, Harv found the ground-level ones almost instantly but the higher ones delayed him a little - he found the right area but couldn’t immediately find the containers. It didn’t take too long though, he was soon looking up, indicating where the containers were.

I should mention that during this search Harv managed to ‘make his own door’ into one of the buildings. It was closed and locked but Harv managed to push the bottom left corner sufficiently hard that it flexed enough for him to get in!!! It was then a bit of a challenge getting him out again - it was still locked after all. :headbang:

We then watched the trainer and William repeat the exercise. It was interesting to see the difference between the two dogs. William was calm, both in his searching and his indication. Harv was ‘Keep up! I’ve found this one and I can already tell that there is another to find. Why aren’t you running?’

We had a couple of runs with the outbuilding then moved on to what can best be described as a 3-sided barn.

In one of the walls there were some slits at around head height. The sneaky trainer hid a scent container in one of these slits. She even told @Mrs UB how difficult this would be because the wind would blow through the slit carrying the scent into the next building!

Sure enough, this created problems for me and Harv (remember- I don’t get to see where the containers are hidden). Harv went straight to the slit in the wall (at which point a better handler would have been alert to the possibility of a container possibly being at head height!). He then, as the sneaky trainer had suspected, caught the scent that was blowing through the slits and disappeared into the next building. This continued for a while, due to my failings rather than Harv’s, before I eventually caught on to what I was being told.

We had a similar experience with a container that had been placed on a waist height box. Harv went straight to it and even put his front paws up on the box ... but I was too slow, again, and missed the opportunity to click and reward. At least this time I realised my mistake and was able to guide Harv back to indicate again so that I could click and reward.

We finished with another sneaky one - off the ground, again, and in a corner (to again cause confusion with scent bounce, or whatever the technical term may be). The trainer videoed this one - i’ll see if I can post it up as she has put it one FB.

Another interesting session - and Harv still seems to be loving it :dug:

Well done Harvey, I can see who is the expert there @UncleBob :happy: Harvey could have a new career as a Police search dog. Who knows that when you are out on a walk, Harvey may find all sorts of stolen goods, we used to have "new" car number plates hidden in our local ditch. I know he won't have been given the scent for these objects, but he might realise that the scent they are giving off are in the wrong place.