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Scent Training The Stig

As part of my course in Canine Behaviour and Training, Stig is being taught to search and indicate the presence of a particular scent.

So where did I start? Well choosing a scent was a good start.  Something seemingly useful and fairly strong smelling to make sure the search isn’t unnecessarily difficult. I chose zippo fluid originally, but dogs are just as good at finding gun oil, money, blood or drug scents.

So starting with enthusiasm I tried to teach Stig that the smell of zippo fluid on a sterile cloth means he must lie down. Trouble is zippo fluid does not smell very nice to dogs, so Stig was very reluctant to smell it! So the unintentional result is that when Stig smells the cloth , he backs away and hits it with a paw, then lies down.

At least he is lying down! Once this is established and  after several training sessions, I moved on to hiding the scent in obvious places. The trouble is Stig isn’t very fast at finding it and after a couple of repetitions the scent fades as the fluid evaporates.

I needed a longer lasting, but vaguely similar scent. So I changed to firelighters and went back to the beginning. There must be something similar in the smell of accelerants because Stig picked up the paw and lie down very fast.

Now he just has to find it!

Stigs new home!

Stig at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Stig at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Stig, a two-ish year old Staffie cross joined our household in July after approximately a year in Bath Cats and Dogs home. Stig is fairly large for a staffie, the other half of his parentage is still a mystery.

Does he have traditional staffie cahracterisitics? – Yes some, he is very loyal, he chases small furry things, he loves people and he does not love other dogs! I had been walking him every week day for about 3 months and he was a very popular dog to staff and visitors! He formed very strong bonds with some of the staff there and had had several previous walkers. And I have to say they did a good job of keeping him sane(ish)!

When I collected him I walked him all the way back to our flat to drain off his energy before he came home. In the dogs home he always seemed very excited, exhibiting behaviours like chewing on the lead jumping along on walks, rolling on the ground and not getting up and excited chewing. Once at home he was calmer and alittle uncertain of himself.

The training he had received in the dogs home left him with a good sit, lie down, speak and an ok stay/wait. He was also clicker trained and didn’t pull too much on the lead.