Thresholds are often the nemesis of many a Nosework team! Will your dog actively search the area near the start line BEFORE moving deeper into the area? This may not be as critical at the lower levels but it becomes enormously important as the search areas increase in size. And it’s never too late to start this training!
A lot of other methods may focus on keeping the dog at the threshold using the leash or perhaps just setting a lot of threshold hides. In my method I’m going to use the tendency of the dog to pattern based on how the dog actually thinks. This method works better because it stimulates the dog’s cognition and they learn through self-discovery.
Did you know that your dog is highly pattern sensitive? Patterns are more than just “hey, there is usually a hide near the front of the search area”. Patterns also taking in consideration direction, context, etc. The dog’s memory is incredible and is a huge part of how the dog searches. Dogs do what makes sense and has worked in the past. It’s up to us to set up search scenarios that create what the pattern looks like.
Dogs tend to have a stronger side, meaning some dogs are stronger on the left and some dogs are stronger on the right. We are going to use this to our advantage.
In order to condition a threshold, what you will do is set a hide very close to the start line on one side or the other. If your dog tends to search more to the left, set that hide on the left-hand side. If your dog is more likely to search to the right first, set your hide on the right hand side. This makes the hide very easy to find…. Also make sure it’s the only hide in the area (don’t set a second hide!). You will need to do this off leash. It could be helpful to have some staged clutter on either side so that you can remove the object and replace the hide on something clean.
Once the dog finds the hide reward the dog and put the dog away while you reset the hide in the same general area. We are using the dog’s memory to pull the dog into an area where the dog will be successful. We use memory in order to help the patterning to develop. Continue this approach until you see your dog automatically turn in that correct direction in order to find the hide. This could take up to 10 searches! Make sure that you only do a few searches in a session and try to age the hide about 10 minutes. Aging will also allow the dog to think about what happened and what worked.
Once the dog starts to really understand the hide in the selected direction, you can change up the hide placement and put the hide on the other side of the threshold. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your dog will figure this out!
Here’s Brava in the beginning stages of this training:
Here is Brava in the later stages of this training… Notice how much more successful she is!
Although not a basic skill, take a look at how this translated to a Double Threshold!
Patterning using specific sides WORKS! Enjoy!!
NOTE: This blog is a Lecture from NW200 Are You Trial Ready? Trial Preparation for Nosework Team… to find out more about this class head to: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/27309