Proud of My Dog - dog training
Accepting in-home training clients In the North Slocan Valley from the Village of Slocan to Nakusp, and Kaslo
Group classes are currently held in New Denver, BC
Adapted from NW120: Nosework Elements. Taught by Stacy Barnett http://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/
Stacy’s Website: http://scentsabilitiesnw.com/
Airflow and how it impacts hide placement and search results
Hide placement is EVERYTHING; it can make or break your search. Make the search too challenging and you have just over-faced your dog. Want an easy, motivating hide? Knowing a little about placement and airflow will make all the difference. Use this knowledge to plan an easy or challenging training session and also to understand why your dog searched the way he did.
When you place the hide in a location, it immediately begins to give off an odour. The longer it is in place the more odour collects around it. If you stood in the middle of the room while I placed a drop of perfume in the corner, initially you would not smell it but the longer you stood there, the better you could smell the perfume as the scent disperses through the air.
With little airflow, the scent disperses from the hide in a relatively symmetrical cloud. Airflow however will influence the direction of the cloud that is being dispersed. Other objects as well as surfaces in the area will also serve to collect the odour and prevent dispersal.
Think of scent dispersal as a color. The scent closest to the hide is “red”. As the scent disperses from the source it becomes lighter and lighter red until it becomes pink and ultimately we can no longer see it. A highly experienced scent detection dog is very sensitive to the lighter “color” This is because he has a lot of experience and has honed his sensitivity to scent gradients. That light “color” really catches his attention and because he is very sensitive to scent gradients (skilled at going from “lighter” to “darker”) he can quickly work to the source of the odor. His foundation has taught him that it pays to be sensitive to that little bit of scent and to work hard to get to source. A less experienced dog will be less sensitive to the “lighter shade” and there will be a lot more wasted motion as he tries to work to the source.
Wind Direction and the Scent Cone
If you are standing with your dog and the wind is blowing directly toward you from the hide, your dog can work the cone of scent straight to the hide. The dog works the edges of the cone, some people call this “bracketing”. He moves his nose to the right and as the scent gets more diffuse he works back to the left. Sometimes he will actually move a long distance to the right and then the left as he moves forward. Other times it will seem as if he is moving in a straight line to the source.
If you are standing with a strong wind at your back as you start searching, you are going to go past the hide before scent reaches your dog’s nose and he will then work back towards source.
If the wind is coming perpendicularly to you, your dog will intersect the scent cone as he searches; causing your dog to turn and work to the source of the odor.
For the odours used in nosework, the primary influence on scent dispersal will be airflow. This is obviously a bigger factor outdoors but don’t underestimate the subtle but sometime difficult challenges it can have indoors as well.
Humidity and Scent
In addition to airflow, another consideration is humidity. When air is heavy and moist the scent will collect closer to the hide. With hot and dry conditions, the scent will often be lighter and disperse further from the source.
Using your understanding of airflow
Use your understanding of air flow to control the difficulty of your search – challenge your dog but do not overdo it to the point where your dog starts to get frustrated or gives up. Like with all searches, if you find you have over-faced your dog then end the session and make the next search a better match for your dog’s skill set.
The most important point to remember:
There is only one expert when it comes to scent theory and dynamics and it isn’t you! The true expert about scent dynamics is your dog. Allow your dog to teach you what you need to know. Even more importantly, if you better understand scenting dynamics you are less likely to assume that the dog is wrong when things do not go as planned.