NW103.5: Next Odor

NW103.5: Next Odor

Introducing your dog to new odors is relatively simple. There are a few ways you can do it so think about what will work best for your dog. Or you can try all of them.

a) Pair the new odor with primary
Your dog has a learning history of finding odor with their primary reward so it’s a good way to introduce new odors and make them important.

b) Pair the new odor with a known odor (Birch)
Having both odors together helps to build associations much the way it does when you pair with primary.

c) Have the new odor in the search area – with or without known odor hides in the search
Wait for your dog to NOTICE the new scent then PAY FAST! Don’t give them the opportunity to do a “hit and run,” you must be ready to pay. This option can be the most challenging for the handler. 🙂

After your dog has a few repetitions of exercises that are specifically about introducing the new odor(s) you can incorporate them into any of the searches you choose. Take careful note of which odors are previously known and which are new so you can best support your dog if they become confused or less sure about any of the hides.

The nice thing about working multiple scents is that the dogs can work a fresh “odor picture.” Envision each odor source as having a strong/bright “color” fading to pale the further from source the scent carries. Now if each odor is a different color, imagine how those sources become distinct and how the dog can “sort” them as they overlap and the “colors” blend in a search. Where the odors meet a object surface or a niche in the area, picture how the odor “collects” and becomes stronger in those places, yet not quite as strong as it is at source.

Of course that’s just a bit of illustration for OUR understanding of how scent may “look” to a dog’s nose. What happens with the dog in reality will explain it better so pay close attention to your dogs. 🙂

By Kimberly Buchanan

Kimberly Buchanan CNWI