Week 2: Targeting

You can warm your dog up with a couple reps of each of last week’s activities as a review.Homework Assignment #1: Teach them to search!

Are you finding that your dog is not getting their nose straight to the tin or the lid? If that’s the case, you may have to teach them to “hunt” a little and use their nose. Dogs these days…right? They don’t have to DO anything – we do it all FOR them! 😉

Here are a few ideas:

  • Easy: Take their kibble at mealtime and scatter it all over the kitchen floor for them to pick up
  • Medium: Take their kibble at mealtime and while they do a down-stay on their bed, you plant an easy scavenger hunt with their kibble where they can see it. Little piles in accessible places or in various spots on the floor.
  • Hard: Take their kibble at mealtime and while they wait in another room with the door closed, you plant a scavenger hunt with their kibble and then release them to go search it out.

Of course, if your dog isn’t on kibble, you can still do this but with healthy treats! Scattering treats or food in the grass (or snow) is another great way to get them using their nose. Resist the urge to “help” them!Homework Assignment #2a: Combine the tin and the box!

  • Using a cardboard or plastic box, place the HOT tin inside of it (no lid) and wait up to 5-10-Mississippi, silently. Observe your dog patiently.
  • The instant your dog investigates the tin inside the box with their nose, you are going to mark with a “YES!!” or click and then grab a few small pieces of food and feed at the source – right over the hole without putting food IN the hole or feeding through it.
  • Repeat 3-4 times and then change the position of the box – on its side, horizontally, on its side, vertically, etc.

Homework Assignment #2b: Hide the tin in the box!

  • Using a cardboard or plastic box that has a hole in the lid, place the HOT tin inside and replace the lid.
  • Wait up to 5-10-Mississippi, silently. Observe your dog patiently.
  • The instant your dog investigates 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 at the source – right over the hole without putting food IN the hole or feeding through it.
  • Repeat 3-4 times and then change the placement of the box – always on the floor where your dog can reach it easily….for now.

Homework Assignment #2c: Build duration!

Note: Your dog must be actively targeting the hole in the lid for this exercise to be successful. If you’re not there yet, do not attempt this! Simply stay working on 2a and 2b until you see consistent, deliberate hole-investigations. (There was really no way to say that properly. Forgive me.)

  • Using the box with the HOT tin inside, Arm yourself with a bowl of treats (or a handful).
  • Bring the bowl of treats near the box but not close enough for your dog to grab. If your dog makes a grab for the treats, simply lift it up and out of the way. Whatever you do, do not correct your dog or say anything when they go for the food. The consequence is that it moves out of reach temporarily.
  • When your dog backs off the food bowl, return it to the spot near the box but try not to make this too hard for your dog. It can be 4 feet away to start and you can gradually bring it closer as your dog figures this out.
  • Your dog may investigate/target the hole in the lid. If so, you are going to mark with a “YES!!” or click and then grab a few small pieces of food from the bowl or handful and feed at the source – right over the hole without putting food IN the hole or feeding through it.
  • Remember to mark when your dog has their nose on or in the hole, not after your dog removes their nose!
  • Hold the bowl of food farther away to decrease the level of difficulty.
  • Repeat 5-10 times and then call it! This is REALLY difficult for dogs as it requires focus and problem-solving.

Troubleshooting: see last week’s troubleshooting tips – they haven’t changed!

  • 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.​