One of the very best nosework instructors I’ve ever worked with taught me how important it was to reward well and reward at source. This is the most important thing to do if you want your dog to be able to ignore the distractions that are ever present in search areas everywhere. Here are some words of wisdom from Gail McCarthy CNWI:
“But the rubber hits the road when we ask our dogs to perform in new search environments and we want them to ignore everything other than target odor. And the only way to ensure that your dog will ignore the environment and to hunt for target odor is to: 1. Make the odor as valuable as possible in your dog’s mind. Reward, reward and reward more! Whether you are using toys or treats, the only reason that a dog will search for target odor, something that really has no value to your dog, is if YOU make it valuable to your dog by association. So, if your dog is not “punching it” whenever and wherever you ask your dog to search, then go back to basics and put more value on the odor.
2.Remember to keep a high ratio of repetitive drills to problem solving searches [skill drills].
3.Train in new environments.
I like to find new and exciting treats to use as rewards when I practice with my dogs. My goal is to see their eyes pop right out of their heads as they realize what they’re being rewarded with. It’s tempting to always use the same old treats, especially if our dogs are searching well, but novelty is a powerful motivator and will raise your game to anew level.