Dogs often make associations we don't intend because they are so good at discrimination; they are not as good at generalization. (people are just the opposite - we generalize readily and are poor discriminators) I've written a series of three posts on this topic on our Gimme A Break From Mean Training blog (for pet trainers). They are:
So the idea for the search is to check to make sure the dog isn't searching for odor+tin or odor+putty, etc. The dog toys were there to present an additional challenge. To add to the challenge, the overhead fans were on.
Gimme did really well on all her searches (all off leash).
She checked out all the toys, not because she wanted them, but rather because of all the dog smell on them. She also checked out all the nosework stuff one-by-one. She lingered over clear office tape and the electrical tubing. However, once she got into odor, she was all business about finding it. The three hides were in tins and tubing in amongst the scattered items.
The second search was in the handle of a large piece of luggage (standing upright) and then two more on the perimeter of the room. Dorothy said most dogs in earlier classes had a real challenge with the luggage. Ann said, "Of course, Gimme won't have a problem." Love how she thinks and she was right. Once Gimme got close she was right on it and clearly indicated the handle. She found the other two quickly right after.
The third search had one hide on a shelf at the threshold, another a few feet from where the prior perimeter hide had been and the luggage was laid on its side and placed in the corner with the handle to the wall and about six inches of space between it and the wall. I watched Gimme at the start line for any sign that she wanted to go in any particular direction and when her nose swung left I let her go. She went directly to the threshold hide (she was the only one to get the threshold at the beginning of her search). After that she got over on the right side wall and went straight to the luggage and then swung around sniffing some of the scattered stuff until she found the other perimeter odor.
Another interesting thing was to see which dogs were visual and which were not. Gimme was the most visual and I commented saying, "In my experience Dalmatians are highly visual and often distracted by stuff they see". Dorothy agreed and said in her many years of teaching, she had noted exactly the same thing. What a blessing to have an instructor who respects my years of experience and perspective on my breed (unlike our past nosework instructor who just thought I was making excuses). The other dogs were visual to lesser degrees and the blind dog not at all.
Gimme had a great time and fussed all the way home. She wanted to go back and search some more.
Its going to get into the 90's today, so we are going out to the fort in an hour to walk before it gets too hot. Then I'll come home and mow some lawn and afterward will go to work in air conditioning during the hottest part of the day.