It was a lovely sunny day today, and I’d managed to get my various chores done by lunchtime, which left time for a nice lunch and a trip to nearby Leigh Woods for some search dog training with Ozzy. It was the first sunny weekend day for some time, though, so we were far from the only people who had chosen this particular destination. Which made for some odd looks as Ozzy and I charged through the undergrowth.
The woods are quite extensive, though, so we were able to find some relatively quiet areas where Natalie (accompanied by Molly) could head off and hide while I distracted Ozzy with a quick walk around so she didn’t watch where they went. In each case, Natalie and I agreed a rough area where she would hide, about a half-acre or so in size (we’ll increase the search area over time), and she radioed us when she and Molly had found somewhere suitable to cache themselves.
Ozzy has twigged that the beep of the radio means it’s search time, as you can see from the photo below.
I then took Ozzy to the start of the agreed search area, gave her the ‘find’ command and encouraged her to ‘quarter’ back and forth across the area until she picked up Natalie’s scent. This invariably took little more than a few seconds, at which point she disappeared through the undergrowth. The moment when Ozzy picks up the scent is pretty clear to see, as her entire body language changes and she locks onto it like a furry missile.
It invariably took Ozzy little more than a few second to get to Natalie, though it took me a bit longer, as I’m not 18 inches tall and essentially bullet-shaped. Thankfully, Ozzy’s started to come back to find me once she’s located Natalie (or whoever happens to be hiding for her), so I gave her the ‘show me’ command and she took me back to where Natalie was hiding. At which point she got a treat and her ball, which is – from her point of view, at least – what it’s all about.
We did this five times over the course of our ninety-minute, four-mile walk, which is great practice for Ozzy and was a nice walk for the rest of us. It also seemed to be pretty entertaining for everyone we came across. And the combination of running around, using her nose and actually having to think has done a great job of tiring Ozzy out. She’s curled up next to me on the settee as I type this. I would take a photo to show you, as she looks very cute, but my phone’s on the other side of the room and I can’t move without waking her up…