Week 1: Odour Imprinting

  • Take the HOT tin and place it on the floor within 1-2 feet of your dog. Wait up to 5-10-Mississippi, silently. Observe your dog patiently.
  • The instant your dog investigates the tin with their nose, you are going to mark with a “YES!!” or click and then grab a few small pieces of food and feed in position (see below).
  • Repeat 5-10 times and then remove the tin, put it away, wash your hands, and move on with your life!

Troubleshooting:

My dog won’t investigate the HOT tin.  

To create some interest in the tin, you can pre-load the small area around the HOT tin on the floor with a couple of small treats. Your dog will investigate and eat the treats. At that moment, mark with a “YES!!” or click and then add a few more treats to the same area. Once your dog has eaten all of the treats, pause…your dog will put likely orient their nose back towards the HOT tin or the area around it, to investigate. Mark with a “YES!!” or click and then reward in the same place around the HOT tin.

My dog STILL won’t investigate the HOT tin. 

Okay, let’s start with some straight up classical conditioning. In one hand, have the HOT tin. In the other hand, have 10-20 small treats. Place both hands behind your back. Present the tin to your dog (1 ft away or so – not right in their face!) and pause for a split-second. Start to happy-talk and feed 1-2-3 little treats from your other hand. Place both hands behind your back again. Repeat until all your treats are gone. Do this a few times over the next day or so and you should see your dog perk up and want to investigate it. Then you can move onto the homework assignment.

My dog is nose-targeting the tin. 

That’s alright. We’ll tease that out of the process next week. Take what you can get for now!

My dog is pawing at the tin. 

Well, geez. I would NOT reward that with food. Instead, when s/he paws the tin, simply pick it up (don’t say anything at all!) and hide it behind your back for 5 seconds. Put it down again. Repeat until they use their nose. If that doesn’t work, don’t put it down – keep it in your hand for now and gradually get it closer to the floor until you can place it there without the pawing.

Homework Assignment #2: Toad in the Hole

Using a piece of cardboard, a cardboard box, a plastic lid, or something similar (must be sturdy), create a hole that is anywhere from 2″-4″ in diameter. You’ll want the hole to be smooth so your dog doesn’t cut their nose on it!

Present the lid and let your dog investigate. You can hold it up or lie it down on the ground. Or you can trial both positions to see which is most effective and desirable for your dog. Wait up to 5-10-Mississippi, silently. Observe your dog patiently.

The instant your dog investigates (near) the hole with their nose, you are going to mark with a “YES!!” or click and then grab a few small pieces of food and feed in position – right over the hole without putting food IN the hole or feeding through it.

Repeat 5-10 times and then remove the tin, put it away, wash your hands, and move on with your life!

Troubleshooting:

My dog won’t investigate the lid/hole. 

Okay, let’s start with some straight up classical conditioning. In one hand, have the lid with the hole. In the other hand, have 10-20 small treats. Place both hands behind your back. Present the lid to your dog (1 ft away or so – not right in their face!) and pause for a split-second. Start to happy-talk and feed 1-2-3 little treats from your other hand. Place both hands behind your back again. Repeat until all your treats are gone. Do this a few times over the next day or so and you should see your dog perk up and want to investigate it. Then you can move onto the homework assignment. Note: I would NOT suggest putting treats on the lid as this will create a monster where your dog will ignore the hole and simply clean the lid.

My dog is simply nose-targeting the lid/hole. 

No problem! I’ll take it! That’s just fine. We will build duration soon. Just keep feeding in position and you’ll see next week how this changes!

My dog is pawing at the lid. 

Well, geez. I would NOT reward that with food. Instead, when s/he paws the lid, simply pick it up (don’t say anything at all!) and hide it behind your back for 5 seconds. Put it down again. Repeat until they use their nose. If that doesn’t work, don’t put it down – keep it in your hand for now and gradually get it closer to the floor until you can place it there without the pawing.

  • Reminders for ALL homework assignments and classes:
  • Use high-value, non-crumbly treats
  • Feed at the source – food should get delivered in your cupped hand right on top of the container / hole in the lid
  • Keep sessions very short – 5min at a time is perfect! 5-10 reps and then a rest is even more powerful. When taking a break, bring out the same mat you use in class and give them a Kong or chew to work on for 1-2 minutes and do another few reps.
  • Train in various places in your home without distraction (children, other pets, visitors, etc)
  • Keep your food inside your pouch until needed, not in your hand (unless otherwise directed)
  • Never place the tin or odour directly in your dog’s face or lure them towards it with food. Let them find the odour and then you feed right over it to remind them that this is the “sweet spot”!
  • HAVE FUN! No pressure on the dog, no pressure on you. This is not a race – you’re meant to enjoy this journey and take it slow.​