Friday, February 28, 2014

FitDog Friday: Noseworks Class

On Sunday, we had our first Noseworks class. I wasn't really sure what to expect. All I knew about it really was that our trainer had said Barley would have fun and it would help her to think with her nose instead of always be on the lookout for other dogs.

When we pulled up to the training center, I was nervous. There were at least 6 other dogs in the class and from observing them in the parking lot, I knew they were going to be a high energy group. Barley tends to do better with couch potato dogs who just lounge on the floor in between activities, so I knew the class would challenge her focus.

My nerves escalated when our trainer announced that noseworks is all about drive. When Barley gets hyped up, she tends to lose focus on me. Our trainer said we were not allowed to use obedience commands--so no sit, stay, down, watch, wait--the only commands we could use were "find it" and "all done." I was allowed to give other commands between activities--THANK GOODNESS--because Barley has such high drive anyway that a few calming games between activities wasn't going to make her shut down.

To make a long story short, Barley LOVED the class! We really just worked on building value for sticking her head in a box and keeping it there for a while. First, we just dropped treats on the floor to teach the "find it" command. Barley loves treats, so she especially loved that game. Then we'd repeat it but drop the treat in the box followed by more treats to keep her head in there. She loved that, too.

Early in the class, Barley established herself as the class clown. She is so used to getting commands that when she isn't given a command, she runs through everything she knows how to do until she gets a treat. So, my goofy girl decided that she must need to do things in the box in order to get treats.

This is noseworks, right?
She was certain that she was supposed to sit inside the box.  So, while our instructor was giving more instructions, Barley climbed into the box and stayed there. She had the entire class in stitches laughing at her. So, of course, she thought that was her sign that she was doing the right thing and climbed into the box as soon as she finished getting treats. I'm not sure how this will impact her training to do whatever noseworks actually is, but I'm not sure how to keep her from doing that without obedience commands--hopefully our trainer will say it's not a problem when we have our second class :)

Treats taste good, but I don't like licking cardboard on accident.
We've been continuing to practice find it with the box and have moved up in difficulty a tiny bit. Sh gets shut in another room, I put a treat in the box, and then let her out and tell her to find it.

On the prowl!
She found it!
Despite getting really riled up while working, she never even glanced at the other dogs. I was so proud of her. So far, we love noseworks and are really looking forward to adding on to our skills each week!

Update on our mileage goals: We came in just short of our goal to be at 100 miles for the year so far. We are at a little over 96 miles, so we were very close--but it got really cold again. When I got home yesterday, it was 9 degrees with a windchill of -9, so I decided we should stay bundled up inside instead. It seemed safer for everyone. Hopefully Mother Nature will give us some gorgeous days during spring break when I can get 4 or 5 miles days for the whole week and we can make up for it then.

Hope everyone's staying warm during this latest blast of cold air!


  1. I really need to work on nose training with Bentley. Being a Basset, he smells everything. Keep up the great job!

  2. 96 miles with the weather is great! Sounds like Barley is doing great with the nose work and that the rest of the class is having fun too!

  3. Hahaha, I love that she gets in the box! I hope she continues to have so much fun! You can make up for mileage once it's not frigid anymore... No point being miserable when you can have fun sitting in boxes instead :-)