21 Weeks 3 Days- Introducing Scenting

Dec 5, 2004 | Stitch's Story

Half of breakfast is spent on a bath and blow-dry. She’s getting better every time. Minor whimpering but no yapping, and no offering to get out of the tub. Scuba’s not as good at blow-drying YET as Stitch is (Scuba’s 8 years old). I still don’t dry her bangs or around her ears, but she sits like a champ for the rest.

The other half is spent on Level Three. We test the Heeling – she gives me a 360 degree turn with eye contact with no warmup at all. Clever child. Then we practise her Shaped Trick – that’ll be backing up. She’s got lots of tricks at this point, but some of them qualify as “behaviours” so I’m not using them for tricks, and of the rest, this is the only one that’s purely shaped. She’s got five good backward steps, and if she can’t go any further because she’s run into the coffee table, she stamps her front feet and pretends.

Three more things – Sit for Examination, Loose Leash Walking, and Come – that we need to test in a class situation where I’ve got milling people, and Scenting, and then we’re on to Level Four. Unbelievable! Call it a month per Level so far, working 2 meals a day most days. She’s not perfect, by any means, but she has a good understanding of all the behaviours I’ve shown her, and the ability to walk into a situation ready to learn. What a great puppy.

Stitch wads up one of her dogbeds and sucks on it while making kneading motions with her paws. Her mother does this too. Part of me thinks this is a deranged and infantile behaviour that probably should be stopped. Part of me finds it too endearing to even think about. And part of me is just grateful she found something to do with her new teeth that didn’t involve humans or coffee tables.

For supper we work on scenting. Wow, this is tough. It would be easier to teach her scent discrimination with dumxbells and peanut butter than it is to teach her to find a treat under a kleenex. No matter what I put the treat on or under, she thinks of something else to do with it. I put down paper plates, she thinks “paper plate Zen!” and won’t come near them. I put down plastic lids, she thinks “Whap the lids!” and she’s knocking them all over the room and not even looking at the food. I put the kibble in a low glass and she starts kicking the glass. Finally I put kibble in one fist and present it fingers-up (fingers-down fists are automatically Zen fists) with my fingers spread so it’s easy to find the food. That finally gets through to her, she’s eager to find it now.

Then I put it in the glass again and show it to her with my finger. Then I put another glass out, with food only in the original glass, and show it to her with my finger. Then I start mixing the glasses up, and add a third. Finally I don’t have to show her each one, she’s actually sniffing in them to find the kibble. Man. It takes the entire meal just to get the idea across. And she could SEE the kibble if she was looking – but she’s not, she’s sniffing madly, but it just doesn’t occur to her to use the information from her nose to help her find the food. Fascinating. She’ll sniff for a piece of kibble on the floor for five minutes but, though she’s sniffing madly, she’s not processing the information to help her find the kibble in the glass. We’ve got some work to do before we put THIS behaviour to bed!