Next Tuesday’s NW-Practice was going to be “Containers with Distractors”.
So, starting today, I’m going to give you info and tips to help you successfully prepare for next Tuesday’s “at home” practice.
I’m going to set up a search challenge for you to do at home, along with tips for those of you just starting “green” (inexperienced) dogs on the concept of “distractors”. If you have not yet worked with distractors (food or non-food) with THIS dog, please don’t set up the actual search until you have read ALL the tips over the coming days. We want you and your dog to be successful! 😃
In the meantime; by all means, set up, video and share regular container searches you are doing or have done at home!
OK, items you will need:
1. 6-8 containers, depending on space available. [I’m pretty limited on space at my house because I need to keep dog play mostly upstairs or you won’t be able to hear me over Jer’s TV.] 😏
Containers can be a mix of small boxes, plastic tubs, cereal bowls or even paper plates – with the caveat that the container with the distractor in it MUST be completely closed with no way your dog can easily get it open. I recommend a “Glad”-type plastic container with a few holes punched in the lid, then use packing tape to secure it closed. 👍🏼
2. Pick two fairly low-value “distractors” (you’ll only use 1 per search and then trade out). I recommend a half slice of bread or crackers for a food distractor, and a lightly soiled sock, glove or small toy as a non-food distractor (to start with). If your dog shows absolutely no interest in the non-toy distractor, try something else, but these are options that worked well when I was starting my dogs. *This will be NEW to Rhonda, so I’ll be videoing the fun! 🤣
Pick a space where you can place your containers at LEAST 2’ apart (3’ would be better, but might not be practical). Less than this and you risk fringing (the dog choosing a container near the hide because odor has drifted over and is clinging there).
Training note! The biggest reminder I can give you on training with distractors is this: Your dog must learn to understand that a distractor box/tub will NEVER, EVER result in reward! This means YOU are responsible for making sure they can’t accidentally get into it and self-reward. Rewards come only from finding Odor. The dog will learn to ignore even the tastiest food distractors because they never, EVER pay! 👍🏼
OK, go forth and prepare! I’ll add more tips tomorrow. Happy sniffing!