I think the thing I love most about dog training is the constant problem solving. It’s fun when you get to put behaviors together and then get to go in and fix any weak link in the chain. Sometimes I feel like I can’t blink and miss something the dog is telling me. This just happened with a student’s Utility scent discrimination exercise.
Problems with scent discrimination are common, there’s a lot going on in that exercise. You have to really look and see if your dog is having a scenting problem or a retrieve problem. My student, Trisha, and her dog Einstein, recently had a problem with articles, and we decided that the problem was the retrieve was so reinforcing for him, that he would skip the scenting part of the exercise and just grab an article. The problem with just ignoring his wrong choice, and not rewarding (with food), was that he was being reinforced by the retrieve. So, we came up with a way to reinforce scenting without the problem of his making a wrong selection and getting a retrieve.
If any of you train Nose Work with me, you’ll see where I got the idea from.