Scentwork UK Competition – Is your dog ready?
Scentwork UK is the latest, and fastest growing dog sport in the UK.
Making the decision to go from training at home, to entering scentwork competitions can be a bit daunting.
How do you know if you or your dog, is ready?
I’m a big believer of just getting stuck in there and giving it a go. Over thinking often just leads to inaction. And I don’t truly believe anyone is ever 100% ready for competition.
Your first competition will have some great lessons to learn. Whether you win or come last. Every trial holds a teachable moment that will be beneficial in the long run.
Below are my key ingredients that a dog must have before competing.
I guess this one is pretty obvious really, if your dog does not know the scent, and is confident she knows the scent, then you have no chance!
I think this is the very minimum requirement that your dog is familiar with the scent.
Often, body language changes when a dog smells the scent, they become more excited, their tail might wag faster. Even if your dog does not have a reliable indication, it still may be possible for you to determine the location of the scent.
All that matters when undergoing a trial, is that you can correctly identify the location of the scent, regardless of whether your dog has indicated it or not.
Without a good indication, you might find it hard to know where the scent is, or when to alert the judge that you know where it is.
Your dog needs to be confident that he knows what to do when he gets to the source of the scent.
It could be a sit, down, freeze, paw at, or nudge.
The indication behaviour does not matter so much, it just needs to be reliable, i.e your dog does it every time he finds the scent.
Finally, your dog needs to be able to recognise and indicate a scent in any location.
That means getting out of your own house and garden, and practising anywhere and everywhere.
The more searching they do in different locations, the more confident they will be at trials.
Remember, every location will have different scents, all of which interfere with the search.
I once attended a trial that used the mens bathroom as a scented distraction.
And others have used locker rooms and changing rooms.
How often does your dog get to search those areas? Rarely, if at all, I bet!
Get out and about, search everywhere, have fun!
Your dog doesn’t need a lot of training, just good quality, effective training.
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