Image credit: Colette Turner

Finley – Finding and Fun

I have always shared my life with Border Collies and have participated competitively, in obedience and working trials. My competition days ended a while ago as I wasn’t enjoying the competition any more. So… time to stop.

Each new pup though has gone to basic obedience lessons, learned lots of fun tricks and worked through their Good Citizen Tests. Finley – my latest young lad was no different except… he was different! He was the cleverest lad I have ever had, on the go all the time. He needed something more to challenge and occupy him so we started on a TDS Scentwork programme.

TDS is based on the training drug search dogs receive. Our companion dogs don’t search for drugs, however, but for articles with a particular scent. In Finley’s case he searches for articles with the scent of catnip. Via TDS you learn to use free searching; search a pattern; methodically search a room; a specific area; interpret your dogs movements and indications; and, most importantly, support your dog and work as a team.

Using scent is such fun. Shall we play “hide your eyes” or “find” or “where’s your mouse” (one of the catnip scented articles!!) elicits a response of HUGE excitement. The fun of trying to find ever more difficult places to hide the article; watching the dog work an area,; pick up the scent;  home in and find the article with such joy and then bring it back to you with pride is just… the best !!!

Last week a friend hid a catnip-scented mouse in a closed cardboard box, under an old garden bag, in my shed, the door was on the latch, slightly open. It was a blind search so neither Finley nor I knew where the article was. We both started a search of the garden — methodically checking various places. As Finley passed the shed on his way to the garage, he got the scent, doubled back, went into the shed and homed in on his “mouse.”  I’m not sure who was the most excited at the find – Finley or me.

Finley (and my other dogs – Ross and Ellie) love searching for ANY article. They don’t need a special article and, in fact, tennis balls are a particular favourite. You can hide things anywhere or anytime — in a room, or in the garden. The garden of The Old Dairy has been used on our holidays at Bowerland! Tennis balls hidden in the leaves in the wood on our walk is a favourite game for all of mine and they each take it in turns to “find it.”

Using scentwork with a dog is such a brilliant way of encouraging basic obedience, listening skills, recall, and fetch. We learn to work together, develop understanding, and — best of all — having fun with your dog. Give it a go! I bet you and your dog will love it — Finley and I certainly do!!

30 April 2017

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