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Overexcited Nosework Alerts Part II: How to Calm Them Down

In the last post, you read about the problem/not-problem of overenthusiastic nosework alerts. You want the dog to be enthusiastic, but not to the point of smashing boxes or crashing around your search area like a bull in a china shop! Here are some ways of calming the dog down:

You can try introducing a heavier container, or weighing down the container you have with rocks or sand. If you do this, just keep a couple of things in mind: 1) Make sure that all your containers have the same filler in it, and change the fillers randomly or you might be accidentally training your dog to alert to rocks or sand. 2) Make sure that you're actually addressing the problem behavior here (the wild alerts) instead of just physically preventing the dog from doing it. If more than a few sessions go by and he's still trying to hit, paw or chew the boxes, your problem isn't really being solved -- just masked. Move on and try something else.

Consider introducing simple vertical interior hides. Interior hides are normally introduced after the dog can do a complete container search, can do blind searches, and often has even passed a basic odor recognition test. But it's possible to modify this order a little, and introduce an interior hide. Try hiding the odor (using tape or magnets to the tin, or a little tube of odor) at about dog head height, and in a very obvious location such as right in the dogs path as he enters the room. Because the odor is higher and secured to furniture, the dog will likely not do any knocking around, and you can quickly move in to shape that nice, quieter alert.

Stay tuned for the next post to find out a couple of other ways of slowing down your overenthusiastic alerts!
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