Training for confidence
I recently had a client join me for 121’s, she happened to choose Scentwork as her dog already loved to play ‘find it’ games at home so it seemed a natural progression. Her dog had recently had a traumatic experience and this had caused a loss of confidence in the dog and owner and she was hoping to restore it via Scentwork.
Most training, if done correctly, can be a great source of confidence building but Scentwork is especially good as dogs will often use sniffing to destress/unwind. The biggest key to ensuring things go well is making sure that the dog is always set up for success, especially in the beginning when confidence dips and switching off can occur easily in underconfident dogs.
In this particular session there were lots of forward steps but we also incorporated back steps swiftly if there was a wobble in enthusiasm as I knew that a false move could potential shut down this lovely dog quickly. I soon discovered there was an issue for the dog when the box would move even a tiny bit when touched by the dog trying to locate the smell so again there were some back steps to find the right boxes we could use most effectively to get over this and the training session incorporated lots of short breaks for play with her favourite toy.
It is important that during any learning experience you watch your dog carefully to ensure that you are not pushing to fast or far and if you see the dog looking a little too aprehensive of it has become stressed you make a break. Let them snuffle for treats in a seperate area (so as not to contaminate your scentwork area), take them out for a wee break or fresh air (if working inside), have a game with them or ask for a few fun tricks if they enjoy that. Sometimes just sitting down for a short break will be all it takes but you must ensure they get to uwnind.
Learning new things is taxing on the brain and body, remember every time you have started a new job? the information overload and how shattering that first fun filled day is? It doesnt mean you didnt have fun there but the amount of imformation being processed just becomes wearing. It is at this point that fun filled learning can tip into stressful, if we dont take a break and a breathe that stress can soon build and it is the same for dogs. The aim is always for sessions to be educational and full of learning but overall fun!
One of our regular Scentwork clients on a course
So, back to our lovely 121 client, having tailored the session to suit confidence soon began to grow, we were able to use what this lovely dog thought of as harder/scarier boxes without it phasing her too much and then moved onto adding luggage into the mix. By the end she was so much more confident and really getting into boxes and hunting down the rewards inside. Boxes that at the beginning were scarey posed no further threat in her mind and her whole body language became relaxed, it really was a pleasure to watch. This in turn, of course, led to the same happening with the owner as she realxed into the session and by the end was already looking forward to the next session!
The reason things like Scentwork sessions are so good for confidence is what I call the ‘I can do that’ effect. Take an underconfident dog, set it up for success learning something new and what the ‘I can do that’ feeling sink in. Its a pleasure to watch and the more dogs move through new things in a way that doesnt stress them the more the begin to realise how much they can do and their confidence grows!
So, what are you waiting for, book up and come let your dog experience ‘I can do that’!
The nose knows! – Scentwork East for all your training needs in Essex
Call Nina on 07917445830