Sarah Owings
Sarah Owings

Masters of Odor Pt. 2: Advanced Concepts

“Your dog is Yoda….You are Luke.” —Leah Gangelhoff

course has started
1 November 2022



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June 2023

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Whether they are brand new to formal scent detection, or highly experienced working dogs, all dogs are masters of odor. From scavenging food, to hunting rabbits, to noticing when a neighboring dog has just come into season, processing the complex world of scent with exquisite artistry is what dogs have evolved on this Earth to do.
In this class we will be expanding on explorations begun in Master’s of Odor Pt. 1. In addition to single hide searches, we will invite our dogs to teach us what happens to the odor picture in more advanced puzzles as well, such as convergence, thermals, pooling, hides at different heights, and inaccessibles.
Pre-requisites:  I am most familiar with NACSW essential oils as target odor, but if your dog is trained to a different scent, we can usually make it work. All levels welcome, but you will get the most out of this course if your dog has a strong reinforcement history already in place for hunting something specific. Food can work as well as scent, but on searches where the hide is inaccessible by containment, such as in a box or cabinet, your dog will need a non-destructive way to tell you where the food is, instead of just going for it.
Note: You do not need to be a graduate of Pt. 1 to enjoy Pt. 2, but if you or your dog is brand new to scent detection, Pt. 1 is recommended.
Sign up here for Masters of Odor Pt.1:
  • Basic odor kit (including a minimum of 3 scent vessels, such as tins, tubes or straws)
  • Smelly, high value food to search for (e.g. dried fish, beef lung, fresh chicken, or tuna)
  • High value food or toy reinforcement
  • Access to a variety of search areas–both interior and exterior
  • Video camera
  • Misc. items of furniture–tables, chairs, etc
  • Exercise pen, large cardboard boxes, three colanders, junction boxes, or bowls
Course Outline / Possible Explorations
(Each team will be encouraged to adjust search parameters based on the dog’s experience level and / or the human’s curiosity. Participants can pick one search theme per week or try multiple.)
WK 1: Review of Pt. 1 Principles
  • Index of terms–expanded to include more advanced topics
  • Basics of handling odor and how to set hides
  • Preserving confidence and enthusiasm
  • Becoming an odor scientist
  • Painting the odor picture / reading dog body language
  • Assessment: what is your dog’s current skill-level with multi-hide searches, elevation, inaccessibles, etc?
  • Bonus lessons:
    • Clarifying search cues and “Find Another”
    • Practicing search cues in multi-hide searches using food
WK2: Scent Plumes and Accessible Converging Hides
  • Single hides vs. multiple–how does putting out additional hides change the overall picture?
  • Recognizing convergence before the dog solves it
  • Tips to make multi-hide searches more errorless
  • Multi-hide searches with separate scent plumes
  • Multi-hide searches with overlapping scent plumes
WK3: Scent Plumes and Inaccessible Hides
  • Inaccessible by containment
  • Inaccessible by reach
  • Inaccessible by height
  • Where’s that backdoor? — Persistence games to balance inaccessible work
WK4: Convergence + Air Movement
  • Convergence due to wind vs. convergence in still air
  • Convergence due to channeling or pooling
  • Convergence due to swirling
WK 5: Odor + Temperature
  • Sun vs. shade experiments with 1, 2, or 3 hides
  • Multi-hide searches in dry weather vs. damp
  • Convergence puzzles due to thermals
WK6: Fun with Combos
  • high/low
  • Inaccessible and accessible in the same search
  • Mirrored hides in different elements
  • Hides on different planes vs. on the same plane
  • Elevation vs. ground hides–can you see the difference?

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