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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering if anyone had any advice on training scent discrimination for utility. I started with the method of securing the non-scented article, but my puppy wants to get the one that is secured, even if he watches me place it.

Are there any other methods that people have tried? I think he will understand the concept eventually, but was wondering if any one has had success with another method.
 

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I think what you want to do is buy some spray cheese and put a dab of it on the article and have him retrieve just one article. Once he's doing that, then add the second tied down without the cheese on it.
 

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There have been a few posts recently about this, both Stephanie and Jodie working through training this behavior.

A few key things to think about:

-Does your dog have a retrieve completely trained?
-Does your dog retrieve both leather and metal without hesitation?
- Have you introduced the concept of identifying scent separately from the retrieve?
- What is your training plan (....all the major steps from "My dog has no clue" to "My dog is fully trained for the behavior")? It sounds like you are probably missing some steps and/or progressing faster than your dog is ready for.
 

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I find I like a combination of tying down the articles and putting some squirt cheese to start with on the scented article.

I don't like using tie down alone because the dog usually goes through a long phase where it is just seeing which are tied down and which are not by testing each article, and not using any scenting ability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I tried the cheese method. River went up to it liked it for a while then picked up when I told him to then brought it back two steps placed it down and licked it some more. I actually was not surprised by this because he licks his metal food dish excessively, carries it around and puts it in a new place to lick it some more. I think I will go back to trying it with out the cheese and seeing how far we get that way.

Any other suggestions? Do you think I should continue with the cheese or not use it at this point?
 

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I have never really understood the spray cheese method... if you want your dog to learn to find your scent, it just seems like an extra step to start with a different scent. Not that the method is "wrong".... many many people very successfully use it... just that I personally don't get it. Regardless, if it seems more distracting than successful, it's probably not the best method for your dog.

I actually clicker trained the scent discrimination exercise with great success. I took my method from the book "Clicker Training for Obedience" by Morgan Spector.... and briefly described it here in Steph's thread:
http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/showpost.php?p=1135369&postcount=6

But to be fully honest, there's a few steps before all that. Like Red Dogs said, you want to make sure your dog will retrieve both types of articles without issue. Once Jersey had a strong drive for both articles, I would hide one in a dark room and encourage him to find it (first by letting him see where I put it, then an obvious place without him seeing, and working up to harder places) so that he would have a strong association between the articles and using his nose. Then we moved on to what I described above.

There are many methods for teaching the scent discrimination exercise... so I'm sure you'll get a wide variety of answers here. Good luck!!

Julie and Jersey
 

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Here's the steps I use with the cheese (make sure you always put your scent on the article before you put the cheese on it):

1. Put a line of cheese across the article. Follow the dog out there and as soon as he starts to lick the cheese put your finger down on the edge of the article so he can lick all the cheese off without the article scooting around too much and praise while he is licking (I tell my dogs "good 'find it'"). As soon as all the cheese is off give your retrieve command and walk backward having the dog follow you with the article in his mouth for a few steps before you praise and take the article.

2. Just a dot of cheese on the top of the article. Since there is less cheese you shouldn't have to follow the dog out there to hold the article down, just give the retrieve command as soon as he has licked the cheese. Continue this step until the dog will retrieve the article automatically as soon as he is done licking without being told.

3. Put a dot of cheese on the top of the article and smear it into a really thin invisible layer across the bar. By this point most dogs won't even bother to lick the article, just grab and return.

4. Instead of putting the dot of cheese on the article, this time put it on your hand and rub it into your hand, then scent the acticle. This will put just a slight hint of cheese scent on the article, just enough to make the dog confident he is making the right choice, but your scent will come through much stronger.

5. Scent with no cheese.


There you go, 5 steps to successful, confident articles! I believe this is my favorite exercise of all to teach.


By the way, when I teach articles I use the same pair (I use number six) for this entire process. And then I never ever put them in the pile as unscented articles
 

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Nice article in Front and Finish this month....using holiday cookie tins...
Im trying to get up the courage to take it on ;-)
 

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Nice article in Front and Finish this month....using holiday cookie tins...
Im trying to get up the courage to take it on ;-)

I got my F & F yesterday and I thought it was a good idea as well! Although I wouldn't do the tie down method part of it..the first part with the holiday cookie tins is a very clever idea! =)
Anyone on here use the Around the Clock method??
 

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Anyone on here use the Around the Clock method??

Annabel, Conner, and Colby were all taught using Around the Clock. But they all needed the articles to be tied down at some point after I was done with Around the Clock, as they weren't understanding the "correction" Janice uses in ATC for taking the wrong article.

After two days of trying I could see that Flip was going to need tie downs from the beginning. I would have loved to have kept the process of Around the Clock into place while tying down the articles, but I didn't really have a efficient way to be able to do that. Interestingly enough Flip tried to grab a wrong article twice when I first tied them down, and so far has not tried to take a wrong article since then.
 

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I think like anything else, it depends on the dog's personality.
One thing that I have noticed and, having mentioned it to several people who were having trouble with articles it seems to be common, is that dogs often have a hard time if you have one scented article and one not scented one. As soon as they started putting out more articles (like 3 unscented and 1 scented), the dog quickly caught on.
The way I look at it, it's like putting a white piece of paper down and a black one, and telling a child to go pick the correct one. When there are only 2 out, it's hard to tell which is the *correct* one. But if there are, for example, 4 out, 3 are white and 1 is black, the child is much more likely to quickly infer that the black one is the correct choice. I think the same is true for the dog. ONE article is different from the others, therefore, it must be the one you want.
JMO, of course, since Tito never did tell me how he was selecting the right one.
 

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Interesting concept Barb, I never thought of it like that
 

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The people I trained under always taught it with one scented, one unscented. Tito just didn't seem to "get it". So one day in frustration, I put out 4 articles and sure enough, he was nailing it every time. It was an "AHA" moment for me.
Shortly thereafter, a friend mentioned that her golden just didn't get it. I told her what happened with Tito, she tried it, and sure enough her little girl caught on right away too. Then she and I were talking about it at drop in training one night, and one of the guys mentioned that HIS golden had been having a hard time, too. As soon as he put 4 out, his dog quickly caught on.
I know that's a small sample size, but I think there's validity to the idea.

edit....add music playing in the background....from Sesame Street...."one of these things is NOT like the other ones, one of these things just isn't the same...." LOL

Interesting concept Barb, I never thought of it like that
 

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Since I always started with Around the Clock, which goes into a full pile on day one, I never ran into that problem, but it's a good thought to keep in mind when trying to help someone facing problems. That's why I like using cheese to start with, most dogs don't need to stop to think about which one is the right one if one has cheese on it!
 
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Yes, Connie Cleveland believes you should totally separate the retrieve part from the scent component.
When I read this yesterday it made sense to me due to the issues Casey has had. He is an uber retriever and when I send him to the pile, he thinks I will be happy with whatever he brings back...smell? What smell? I plan on discussing Cleveland's article with my coach to see what she thinks.
 

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I think like anything else, it depends on the dog's personality.
One thing that I have noticed and, having mentioned it to several people who were having trouble with articles it seems to be common, is that dogs often have a hard time if you have one scented article and one not scented one. As soon as they started putting out more articles (like 3 unscented and 1 scented), the dog quickly caught on.
The way I look at it, it's like putting a white piece of paper down and a black one, and telling a child to go pick the correct one. When there are only 2 out, it's hard to tell which is the *correct* one. But if there are, for example, 4 out, 3 are white and 1 is black, the child is much more likely to quickly infer that the black one is the correct choice. I think the same is true for the dog. ONE article is different from the others, therefore, it must be the one you want.
JMO, of course, since Tito never did tell me how he was selecting the right one.
When I first started, I went from 1 article (my secented one only for a few reps) to three and skipped two all together b/c I didn't want him pulling a win/stay, lose/switch on me. I do think two would be very hard unless the dog already had a VERY strong reward history associated with your scent.
 

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I think like anything else, it depends on the dog's personality.
One thing that I have noticed and, having mentioned it to several people who were having trouble with articles it seems to be common, is that dogs often have a hard time if you have one scented article and one not scented one. As soon as they started putting out more articles (like 3 unscented and 1 scented), the dog quickly caught on.
The way I look at it, it's like putting a white piece of paper down and a black one, and telling a child to go pick the correct one. When there are only 2 out, it's hard to tell which is the *correct* one. But if there are, for example, 4 out, 3 are white and 1 is black, the child is much more likely to quickly infer that the black one is the correct choice. I think the same is true for the dog. ONE article is different from the others, therefore, it must be the one you want.
JMO, of course, since Tito never did tell me how he was selecting the right one.
When I taught King, it was with the tie down method. He just did not seem to get it until I went to a full set of articles out - and then he never failed. I thouht he needed more of a challenge, but your explaination makes way more sense :)

I now teach a combination of Round the Clock and Morgan Spencer's method which also more articles from the outset.
 

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This is such a helpful thread- I'm so appreciative.
 

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I think like anything else, it depends on the dog's personality.
One thing that I have noticed and, having mentioned it to several people who were having trouble with articles it seems to be common, is that dogs often have a hard time if you have one scented article and one not scented one. As soon as they started putting out more articles (like 3 unscented and 1 scented), the dog quickly caught on.
Thanks for sharing this! I'd not thought of it like this before. The couple dogs who have been worked on this had a concept of hot/cold items in other contexts.... but that concept is going to be one of my "foundation skills for scent articles" now.
 
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