Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

Last week I had one night as a single parent – which means a busy evening, but time at the end of the evening when I can do/watch whatever I want.  After training the dogs a bit, I settled down on the couch with a glass of wine and a video.  The video?  “Around the Clock Scent Discrimination” by Janice DeMello.

Yes, I took my rare free time to finish watching the video on the Utility articles (aka scent discrimination) training method I’ve chosen for Maggie.  It seemed a natural choice.  Glass of wine, training notebook (I had to take notes!), and a VCR tape (borrowed from a friend who bought it years ago) of a woman training her dogs in her basement.  What could be better?

It was somewhere around the time I was taking notes on week four that I realized my behavior is just a bit abnormal and geeky.  I’m headlong down the rabbit hole of competitive obedience.  There’s just so much to learn.  I’m not striving for a perfect 200 score – I want to have fun with the dogs, keep them interested, and learn how to train new things.

So far, Maggie and I are really enjoying this training method.  It’s all about teaching to dog how to be right, and challenging them more & more each week.  For Maggie, it involves lots of squeeze cheese, treats & praise.  The only thing she’d change is the metal articles.  She really doesn’t like them, and gives a long-suffering look as she’s returning them. 

Maggie and the leather article

Maggie and the metal article.
Note long-suffering look.

For those of you who aren’t crazy obedience people – in the Utility Articles exercise the dog is sent to a pile of dumbbells laid out on the ground.  One of these dumbbells (aka articles) is scented by the handler.  The others aren’t.  The dog picks up the article with the owner’s scent and returns it to the owner.  This is done two times – once with a metal article, and once with a leather article.  Utility articles should be easy for a dog.  Sniff around a pile of utility articles, pick up the one that smells like mom, and bring it back to mom.  Easy for a species with a great nose!  I’ve never trained a dog to do articles before, so poor Maggie gets to suffer through my learning curve, too.


  1. I feel much the same. I do dog things because i like doing new stuff. I will never have an OTCH or MACH dog. I cant be that focused. But I will have and do have dogs who dabble in a bunch of stuff. We may not be perfect, but we are having fun. Magiie looks good with the articles!

  2. I don't blame Maggie for not liking the metal article. Who wants to bite down on metal? Ewww!

    I commend you on your training dedication! I am lazy at night and rarely train in the house unless the dogs are going nutso with boredom, and then we either play fetch or hide and seek! With this HOT weather, no training outside either!


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