Many canine careers require a dog to learn scentwork. These include tracking dogs, customs dogs, police dogs and even some types of therapy dogs.
Of course dogs don't really need to learn how to use their sense of smell, dogs can do that all on their own. What they do need to learn is how to tell us about what they are smelling. Dogs are often taught to:
With the help of a suitably experienced dog trainer, these skills can easily be taught to pet dogs in a fun way. Scent work is then used in competition: at the higher levels of Obedience, at all levels of Tracking and in the soon to arrive to Australia competition of Scentwork.
If you are hoping to compete in Scentwork at some point in your dog's life, be cautious of any training program that teach a dog to tear through cardboard boxes to find food or food scents. This type of training can be very difficult to undo and will prevent your dog from competing in the higher levels, where food is placed in a search area as a decoy and your dog must not "find" the food. Instead food should only ever be used as a reward, or in some cases in early tracking training as a trail. The exception to this rule applies to anxious dogs or dogs lacking in confidence. In these cases letting them start the process by sniffing out food can be useful in developing confidence (because they don't need to have the confidence to "indicate" to you). If you are using food for this type of confidence building, the food should be readily available (i.e. on a plate or loose on the floor, not inside a box or container). This allows the dog to instantly reward for simply sniffing out the food, without developing unwanted behaviours such as crashing through cardboard boxes (which you won't want him / her to do at a later stage). At some point the dog still needs to progress to odour where you will want the dog to "indicate" the scent to you, not smash through the containers to get to it.
If you would like to discuss teaching your dog scent skills for competition, or just as a fun activity for you and your dog, contact us.
Obedience competition is all about having a relationship with your dog that allows you to cue your dog to perform a certain task.
In Australian Obedience Trialling (ANKC), the types of exercises include; heelwork, recalls, stays, stand for examination, change of position from a distance, retrieving, jumping, scent work and minimal tracking (seek back).
The lower levels only include basic work such as heel, sit, down, stand, stay and recall.
Rally-O is a more modern version of Obedience Trialling. In Rally-O handlers are encouraged to talk to their dog and praise their dog throughout the actual test. The lower levels include basic heeling and changes of position, the higher levels include more complex heelwork than Obedience Trialling and also includes recalls, change of position from a distance and jumping.
Most pet dogs enjoy obedience training and the process of learning the cues for Obedience and Rally-O. With the help of a suitably experienced dog trainer all pet dogs can quickly learn the basics for Obedience Trialling and Rally-O.
If you would like to train toward competing in either Obedience Trialling or Rally-O, contact us. If you are already competing but need some help to move up a level, or to improve your performances, check out the section below on "competition coaching for handlers".
Typically the training sessions provided by Avanti Dog Training are conducted as 30 minute private lessons. Handlers however are welcome to get together with a friend or two and split the 30-minute lesson fee.
In Australia we have recently seen the addition of a new dog sport called Trick Dog. This sport involves demonstrating how well you and your canine partner communicate. At the lower levels the list of tricks includes simple tasks like going around a cone, following a target stick and holding an object. The higher levels include much more complex tasks, and there is even room for handlers and dogs to show off their own personal tricks that are not listed. This sport was originally designed to introduce more handlers and dogs to a sport called DWD (dancing with dogs).
"Trick dog" as a sport, is a great starting point for lots of people new to dog sports. The individual tricks can be easily taught to any pet dog and you can reward your dog with treats in between exercises. Please contact us if you would like help teaching your dog a new trick, or perfecting an existing one.
Sharon's extensive formal qualifications in animal behaviour, psychology and cognition are matched with her lengthy experience in the animal training and sports coaching sector.
Sharon has been a qualified sports coach since 1992. She has been qualified to coach at the highest level (Olympic level), and has coached many equestrians to championship wins. In order to obtain these credentials she has studied extensively in the field of sports psychology and competition preparation. Sharon has also coached India and Japan to individual and team success at International competitions.
Sharon can help you prepare both yourself and your dog for competition success.
All ages, all skill levels, all abilities, can benefit from the implementation of a personalized, strategic competition preparation program.