My dog does great in training, but…”
How many times do we hear these famous words from a person new to the dog training arena. The crew from Soggy Acres Retrievers would love to provide a simple tip that could help! One of the most common reasons for training mishaps is scent control. We’re not talking about the scent control we use for game hunting. We’re talking about the scent control of our training items that we use with our trusty four-legged field champion.
Most people don’t realize just how much scent is on our hands alone. Everything we touch bears our signature scent for animals to smell. If you throw a ball into heavy cover, the dog doesn’t seek out the tennis ball’s scent to find the object: he uses the scent from the hand that launched it there (or the overly-familiar scent of his own slobber from past retrieves).
This does not pose a problem for someone that is working with a future yard ball champion, but will pose a long-term problem for the trainer with a new dog looking to achieve greater things in the field. As a training program progresses, the trainer needs to go from scent introduction to scent discrimination.
To do this, start using scentless gloves, either plastic or latex, when handling training tools. This will allow your future field champion the opportunity to learn that bird, deer, rabbit, and all other animal scents being trained for, don’t come with their owner’s hand scent as well. Your scent will not exist on the animal in the wild that you need him to retrieve, so he needs to begin the process of identifying and seeking out these new scents.
Of course there is also nothing like the real thing! If training for upland or waterfowl, use the actual quarry. If shed hunting, find an area rich with antlers. When using actual quarry is impractical, companies such as Conquest have created applicator sticks containing actual animal scents in compounds made to withstand your sweat and his slobber for extended training sessions. Just apply to your training object and go.
Pass on this knowledge to other perspective trainers! There’s nothing better than a well-trained dog to hunt behind in the field!