Saturday, August 1, 2009
For the past few weeks, Joy and I have been training Fiona to track a scent. She is learning this skill so that if her boy that she is placed with gets lost, Fiona will be able to find him. We started at Joy's house on her front lawn. Joy took a toy and walked a straight line away from Fiona and me and then walk back on the same line. She placed the toy at the end of the scent trail. Then, I told Fiona "ok, find it!" Fiona would race after it and grab the toy and dance around, quite proud of herself. After Fiona got good at doing that, we took her out to a large field, where the grass was taller. Taller grass helps a dog to follow a scent because more scent is laid, it is not just on the ground but on the spires of grass. We did the same thing as before, when we were on Joy's lawn. We then started hiding the toy off to the side of the trail, or made corners. This helped Fiona to learn that we wanted her to use her nose and follow the scent, rather than just watch as to where the toy was placed. Fiona is doing very well and is able to make short corners and follow the scent with her nose. We will be making it harder and harder for her, with longer and longer distances that she has to track. Fiona really enjoys her tracking lessons because it means she gets to run around and get toys and treats. She gets very excited when she finds the toy and prances around with her prize. Later, we will borrow one of her boy's socks or other article of clothing to be in place of the toy, so she learns to track for his particular scent.