Well Chopper is still recovering from all of the brain work he had to do this weekend so I will be reporting on our first week in Scent Discrimination at the Zoom Room in Culver City.
First, the class is made up of all female dogs and Chopper. Two of them are very small and two are more medium sized. Chopper is also the only hound dog and probably the biggest by a good twenty-five pounds or so. There is a 14-year old miniature pinscher, a tiny white dog (who might be our biggest competition as it turns out), and two medium-sized dogs that each bore a striking resemblance to other types of dogs but were the wrong size (and they also happened to have the same name).
I didn't tell Chopper ahead of time that during this class the dogs would be in crates when it wasn't their turn so I wasn't sure how he would fare. Chopper never had a problem being in his crate by his choice or mine if I was home (he was not to be crate-trained however and the one attempt early on resulted in him coming to work with me for a week) and we still use it occasionally but about a year ago I decided that two dog beds and the crate were taking over my house and we put the crate away. But truth be told if there is someone in the house he doesn't know and he's in his crate there is a lot of barking and carrying on. (I spent four hours one Saturday with him in there and three cable guys roaming around the house and it was one of the longest days of my life.) We happened to have his couch blanket in the car so I put that over the crate to help block his view but made the mistake of doing it before he got in the crate - why a mistake you ask - well Chopper has been trained that that blanket means he can get on the couch - so as soon as it was on the crate he jumped right up on top. He was very confused that the crate had not turned into the couch and established himself as the class clown.
So the dogs spent the better part of the class time getting used to the box that the scents would eventually be placed in. I'm not sure how they are going to learn to discriminate these scents but for now they just had to get used to the box. So Chopper's "silver" treat of choice - turkey hot dogs - were loaded up in the box and he was told to "find it" and he did. Now Chopper has been playing "find it" for some time. He is fully capable of waiting in one room while you go in the next and hide a piece of dried chicken until I yell "find it" and he will come barrelling in to, well, find it. I sometimes put the chicken in shoes so I suspect that he can actually discriminate scents. So he thought this was good fun and by the end was ever so softly whining in his crate when it wasn't his turn. Most of the dogs thought it was great except for one very shy dog who was a little freaked out by the box.
Next two of the three scents they will eventually discriminate between were placed on a paper towel and put in the box along with the treats and the dogs had to get the treats again. Now you would think - they are just going to do it again - but not quite. These oils smelled strong to us and if you're a dog and not a person they are that much stronger (and if you're a coonhound and not a regular dog - well you can just imagine). So while the dogs did get the treats they were a little more careful and slow about it, which I did not expect. We didn't purchase the at-home practice kit but I'm sure that will be coming home next week.
All in all it was a fun way to spend a Sunday morning with the Chops - now if I could only remember the people's names in addition to the dog's names.