Monday, March 12, 2012

Putting the nose to work: A prelude to beagle tracking

If there's one thing I would marvel at when it comes to Lulu, it is her nose.
It's this strong, black, vaccuum-power-sucking machine. Sometimes I think it guides her more than her head does (if at all).

This is common in most beagles -- it's their super doggy power. And I'm determined that Lulu uses hers for good, not evil.

Experienced beagle trainers train their dogs to track. It utilizes the dog's powerful sense of smell, and it's supposed to actually be fun for them. Here's more about it from the National Beagle Club.

Tracking, however, seems a bit complicated for Lulu right now. She's three years old and she's never done it before. I figure baby steps are required.

On the website BeaglePro, they have an intelligence training game called "Magic Trick." I decided this might be a good starting point.

I took four of those red Solo cups and a Beggin' Strip. I let Lulu smell the treat in the cup, and then I let her watch me put the cups on the ground in the kitchen. Then I took her out of the kitchen and rearranged the cups, with the treat in the third cup.

I let Lulu back in. My hope was that she would catch it on the first try. Unfortunately, not so much.

I thought maybe it was because I had dragged the cup with the treat on the ground when I rearranged it. So maybe I had dragged the scent of the treat across the ground too. But when I tried it again, she had the same trouble finding the treat right away.

I'm going to keep trying, and seeing if Lulu improves. If she gets really good and I can upgrade to tracking, maybe we can start doing some bigger tracking projects. Maybe she can be of service as a rescue dog. And at least that nose can be used to do good.

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